Thursday, June 21, 2012

Zamboanga City: Fort Pilar

This fort was originally constructed as an outpost of the Spanish armed forces to drive away pirates. Presently, Fort Pilar is more of a worship place for Roman Catholics, specifically devotees of the Virgin Mary.

I would say that Zamboanga City is really a melting pot of different cultures as you can visit this Marian shrine which is just a stone throw's away from a very popular Muslim Village called Rio Hondo and this fort is also near to a Muslim mosque so even when there's a mass being celebrated here you can hear a Muslim call for prayers coming from the loudspeakers of the mosque.

Aside from those ubiquitous tricycles, jeepneys go directly or end their routes in Fort Pilar so going there is not a problem wherever you are in the city. Outside the fort you will see many vendors selling religious article, souvenirs and snacks.

Note: All photos featured in the article above are owned by

Monday, June 11, 2012

Silay City: Balay Negrense

This museum/ancestral house is in the same city as with the airport so this is the nearest tourist spot that you can visit from the Silay-Bacolod Airport. It is interesting to see and feel how the hacienderos (sugar barons) lives during the early 20th century. The owner of this house is the pioneer of sugarcane cultivation in the province so it only shows that they live very comfortably. You will see the house's original furniture and decorations so even there is no cordon separating visitors from the different parts of the house you should not touch any of the antique items on display.

It is good to know that despite this house seeing the rising and setting of the sun for three different centuries it is still well maintained and it looks like it will last for another hundred years. Well I guess you can't put a sturdy stone-house down.

From the city center of Silay you could find tricycles which can take you to this museum. You should only pay the minimum fare as regulated by the local government.

At the lower level of the house you will find an art gallery displaying the craft and works of the local artists which some works are available for sale.


Note: All photos featured in the article above are owned by

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Butuan City: Balangay Shrine Museum

Photos of Balangay Shrine Museum, Butuan

Photos of Balangay Shrine Museum, Butuan
The real thing: Balangay boat

This small museum is several kilometers east of downtown Butuan City where lies the resting ground of the 320 A.D.-dated Balangay boat. The wooden boats measured an average of 15 meters in length which said carried the first settlers of Butuan. To date, 9 Balangays have already been discovered in the town of Libertad. The museum is just like a small house so you could be out in that building in just 15 minutes. Aside from the remains of the Balangay, you would also find the remains of the early settlers found in coffin burials so if you are squeamish about skeletons just don't go there.
Photos of Balangay Shrine Museum, Butuan
wooden nails used to fasten the boat

The Balangay is a cultural heritage that establishes the maritime activities of Butuan long before the Chinese came to the shores of the Philippines. Butuan is protected against any form of intrusion, illegal excavation or vandalism because of a Presidential Order.

I hope the local and national government would pay close attention on the needs of this national treasure. Aside from that, the building really needs a good renovation.

Photos of Balangay Shrine Museum, Butuan

Note: All photos featured in the article above are owned by

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Iloilo City: Roberto's famous siopao

Photos of Roberto's, Iloilo City

When we first enter this restaurant we know that good food is being served on that establishment as evident of a long queue for takeaway of their siopao (steamed buns with meat filling) and almost all of the seats were taken while the restaurant besides Roberto's is almost empty despite it is only 2PM on a weekday. Their most famous food there is the Queen siopao (steamed bun with chicken, pork adobo, bacon, Chinese sausage and egg). The Queen siopao is only available on certain days of the week so we are lucky that it is being served on the day we dined there.

Their different types of pancit (noodle dish) are also worth trying. We also had the fried chicken and lomi (noodle soup) which are just average. The interior of the restaurant is really old, it looks like it didn't had any renovations since its opening date but the ambiance will add the authentic feeling that you are dining in one of the institutions in Iloilo's must place to eat.

Photos of Roberto's, Iloilo City

There is more to Iloilo than La Paz batchoy and pancit molo.

Note: All photos featured in the article above are owned by

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation Biodiversity Conservation Center

This is the nearest thing that you could get if you want to go to a zoo when visiting Bacolod City in the province of Negros Occidental. The Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation rescues wild animals from poachers and this is where they end up. You will see that the animals are really well taken care of because they are all in perfect shape unlike the malnourished animals at Manila Zoo.

Many of the animals on display are endemic to the Philippines and most of them are on the critically endangered list. We might be the last generation to see these animals breathing so I really salute the men and women behind this foundation for a job well done. This center is a popular venue for field trips and employees there are very much accommodating as they are used to have children as guests.

You just need to pay PHP20 to enter and donations are highly encouraged. You will be given an official receipt for your donations so you will be rest assured that it will be put in good use. Many companies are regular donors to the foundation and you will see their names in signposts (as a form of advertisement I suppose). I hope many others would contribute to this foundation.

This rescue center is located just besides the Negros Capitol which every resident knows.

Note: All photos featured in the article above are owned by

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bacolod City: Mambukal Mountain Resort

If you want to see 7 waterfalls in just 2 hours worth of hiking then this is the place that you should go whenever you visit Bacolod City. Mambukal is only an hour away from the city and it is a very popular summer getaway for city dwellers because of its cool climate. The hike from the 1st to 6th falls is tolerable even for beginners but the real challenge begins when you started to hike to the waterfalls #7. You can only take a dip on the 6th and 7th falls and it is best to go there with a guide. The guide asked for PHP200 pesos to accompany us up to the 7th falls and back to the resort. He carried my backpack so I gave him additional PHP100.

The mountain resort also has a sulfur pool which is too hot to take a dip in and the stench could be unbearable as we all know that sulfur smells like rotten eggs. There's also a hot spring and its quite popular to visitors. Other activities being offered at Mambukal are canopy walk, zip line, wall climbing and boating.

I highly recommend this place for nature lovers who don't want to go far from Bacolod.

Note: All photos featured in the article above are owned by

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cebu Pacific Labor Day Sale: Php 382

Price: 382 pesos
Destinations: All domestic destinations of Cebu Pacific Air
Selling period: now up to May 2, 2010
Travel period: September 1 to 30, 2010

Note: Quoted fares are one-way and are exclusive of government fees and taxes. Visit Cebu Pacific's website for more details about this seat sale.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Air Philippines Express Sale

The banner says it all . . .

Saturday, April 24, 2010

PAL Midnight Special

A package of new low fares and other surprising promos will be unveiled over the weekend by Philippine Airlines (PAL) as part of its year-long "Soaring to 70s" anniversary celebration.

Dubbed as Midnight Special, the PAL promo is kept under wraps until the stroke of midnight of Saturday, April 24, at which time the new promos will be announced and made available exclusively at PAL's web site.

Late-night/early-morning Internet surfers can take advantage of the promos which will end at 6am of April 25, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Payday Zale from Zest Air

The banner above says it all. Zest Air is offering a 3-day seat sale starting today for as low as Php888 inclusive of taxes. It's good to know that the travel period for this sale will start tomorrow and ends until the last day of this year.

Many of my friends are still hesitant to book tickets with this airline because of the two incidents in Caticlan, Aklan last year. Personally I won't use this airline going to Boracay because up to now Zest Air does not fly to Caticlan, instead they fly to Kalibo (1.5 hours from Caticlan by bus or van). For a review of Zest Air you can click THIS.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cebu Pacific's 999 Domestic Seat Sale

The Philippines’s low-fare airline pioneer, Cebu Pacific (CEB) announces a Php999 "Go Lite" seat sale for all domestic destinations from April 7-8, 2010, for travel from June 1 to August 31, 2010.

The airline’s 33 domestic destinations include Boracay (Caticlan), Coron (Busuanga), Puerto Princesa (Palawan), Iloilo, Bacolod, Laoag, Tacloban, Cebu, Davao, Pagadian and Cagayan de Oro.

Those with check-in luggage will just add P100 to ‘Go Lite’ fares upon booking.

Monday, April 5, 2010

European No Fly Zone for Philippines-based Airlines

I can't believe what I read in the newspapers that the European Union (EU) blocked all airlines based in the Philippines to fly in its member countries because of "serious safety deficiencies" as assessed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). I think that this is a more political issue rather than whether airplanes being operated by our local airlines are really on their brink of health. We might all agree that the problem is not with the airlines operating in this country but with the regulating body and the government.

Although there no Philippines-based airlines currently flying in any European destinations, given the current state of the industry, flag carrier Philippine Airlines is the only local airline which could anytime launch a flight in Europe if it so desire as its closest competitor does not have the type of aircraft that could make European flights viable and practical. In the defense of Philippine Airlines, its aircraft (comprising of more than 30 Airbus Industrie-made aircraft and a couple more Boeing types) are very well maintained by Lufthansa Technik Philippines. What do you know... Airbus and Lufthansa sounds European right? I am also very sure that Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air and even Zest Air to that extent are all using newer aircraft compared with a number of airlines in the U.S. and Europe.

Philippine Airlines cited two events led to the inclusion of Philippine carriers in the European Union ban. The first one is the decision of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to downgrade the safety rating given to the Philippines and the other one is the safety alert issued by the ICAO against the local aviation safety regulators.

I hope this issue will be solved the soonest possible time because this is such a negative publicity for the local airline industry.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Christ the Lord Has Risen Today!

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." --Psalm 118:24

To all my loyal readers: Happy Easter! This is the most important day for Christians so let us all celebrate.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cebu Pacific Seat Sale: 70% off on ALL Destinations

It is very obvious that Cebu Pacific Air is teasing Philippine Airlines (PAL) with this domestic and international seat sale in line with PAL's celebration of its 70th anniversary in the business as Asia's first airline.

I am not jumping up and down with this promotion as you could notice that the travel period for this supposed 70% off seat sale is not until the first quarter of 2011. For example, a Manila-Cebu-Manila flight will set you back more or less Php900 while a Manila-Hong Kong-Manila flight will only cost less than Php 3,000... Oh come on CebuPac, you can do better than this!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

HoliDeal Promo Fares -- Air Philippines

For last minute travels in time for the long Holy Week vacation you might want to check Air Philippines for tickets as low as Php 688++. I believe that air tickets for the Holy Week season are now cheaper than 10 years ago despite of the high fuel prices, well, that's the beauty of competition, it is such a good equalizer. I hope there will be more new airlines to come in the future for us to enjoy cheap fares.

Wherever your travels might bring you I hope that we all have a meaningful observance of lent. Happy travels!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Air Philippines: A New-Old Airline?

When you visit the web site of Air Philippines you will notice a front page banner similar to the image above. It seems that Air Philippines will follow the footsteps of Asian Spirit Airlines which became Zest Air without changing ownership. As you will notice the logo is now different and the web address will become

Is this the same banana? I am not a fan of Air Philippines even a bit because I had a horrible experience with them last October 26, 2008 on my way to Iloilo to attend my cousin's wedding. Former Department of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales shared my nightmare together with a 100+ more passengers as we endure a 5-hour delay because they said that our aircraft is still undergoing some maintenance works. I am not surprised at all because the Boeing 737-200 aircraft being used by this airline is way much older than me. It's a good decision to finally replace those Jurassic-era aircraft with modern Airbus A320 planes.

I can't help to notice that the new logo is somewhat the same with another local airline. Is that an eagle's head? And the aircraft livery... I know I've seen this before. I can't wait to buy a ticket with Air Philippines to give them another chance now that they are rebranding their product.

Monday, March 1, 2010

SEAIR's 15th Anniversary Promo

Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAIR), the Philippines' premiere leisure airline, offers special anniversary promos in celebration of its 15th anniversary on March 25, 2010.

Travelers can avail of the special morning rates of as low as PhP 1,999.20 per way all-in for flights to and from Boracay before 7 a.m. The selling and travel period is from February 1, 2010 and onwards. SEAIR is also offering exclusive discounts for online bookings. Vacationers can get PhP 1,500.00 discount per way for all seats, flights and routes when they book via To avail of the promo, online users can type iloveseair15 in the promo code field when booking on March 14-25 for travel on June 15-Oct. 15.

This is SEAIR’s way of thanking travelers for their continued support. The airline has been serving key tourist destinations since 1995, most notably Boracay, and has the longest history of uninterrupted service to Boracay direct via Caticlan.

SEAIR now offers up to 27 flights per day to Boracay (Caticlan) and is now flying daily to the island paradise of Batanes. It also flies to El Nido, Palawan every Wednesday and Sunday, as well as Marinduque every Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.

SEAIR is the nation's second-oldest airline and has flown almost 3 million passengers to local destinations including Tablas (Romblon), Cebu, Clark, Zamboanga, Jolo, and Tawi-tawi. SEAIR also offers the most routes from Caticlan with flights from Caticlan to Manila v.v., Caticlan to Clark v.v and Caticlan to Cebu v.v.

To avail of the SEAIR 15th anniversary promos call SEAIR Reservations at (632)8490100 or book online.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How to Pack a Balikbayan Box

I saw a very ingenious product called Balikbayan Box Cover being offered by Balikbayan Gear for those who have a ton of things to pack as pasalubong, personal effects or when just moving out to a new house. Because my grandfather will celebrate his 88th birthday on Valentines Day many of our relatives in the U.S. went home to attend the celebration. I always help them unpack when they arrive to get my pasalubongs and help them again to pack when they go back to the U.S. so I consider myself a semi-professional "packer."

For me, packing is an art as there are more than a 100 ways to pack your things and not have the skill to do it efficiently. I am not a packing guru so I want to share these tips to have a stress-free as featured in the website of Balikbayan Gear.

1. Pack the heavy items on the bottom first. This includes your canned goods, books or other flat paper products that can serve as a strong base for the rest of your cargo.

2. Wrap the breakables with your clothes or any other soft material that can take the impact off those perfume bottles or souvenir plates from Europe.

3. Stuff all empty containers with other items. If you are taking a bowl home, make sure you put something inside it to save precious space.

4. Save room for those last-minute requests from relatives. Of course, there's always space for friends' requests.

5. Save room for those impulse purchases you will going to make at the airport -- that extra box of chocolate or another bottle of Johnnie Walker.

6. Use Zip Lock plastic bags for bottles of liquid products like shampoo, lotion and cologne. High altitude pressure tends to make them explode.

7. Use double-walled boxes. They cost more, but they provide better protection from the steel-toed boots of baggage handlers.

8. Bring an extra friend at the airport. In case your box is overweight, you can unpack the non-essentials and give them to this person to take home.

9. Get someone to help you weigh your box. You probably cannot read a scale while carrying a big box.

10. With the Balikbayan Box Cover, there is no need to worry about your box being overweight at the check-in counter. If the weight reading at the airport is a few pounds over, all you have to do is unzip your cover and hand-carry those extra cans of corned beef.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Spend Over $30,000.00 for Valentine's Day

Are you willing to spend 1.4 million pesos (US$30,400) for Valentine's Day? If your answer is yes, then you might want to give a try the "Suite Valentine Affair" package being offered by Manila Hotel which will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2012. Here are the inclusions:

Overnight stay at the MacArthur Suite, Room d├ęcor with flowers and pralines, Limousine service within Metro Manila, Express check-in/out, 24 hours butler services, Special Treatment Package (Detoxification Package) for 2 (two) persons, “A night under the stars” special romantic dinner at the roof deck of the Manila Hotel, Jewelmer's one matinee-length strand necklace composed of multi-colored baroque Palawan South Sea pearls for the lady in the room, flowing champagne, Special room service breakfast, internet access & Free mini-bar.

If you are not a CEO of a multi-billion peso company here in the Philippines or a hacienda heiress then you might want to try the other packages that are more economical.


RATE: PHP 7,995.00 NET

AVAILABILITY: February 12-14, 2010


RATE: PHP 8,995 .00 NET

AVAILABILITY: February 12-14, 2010


RATE: PHP 9,995.00 NET

AVAILABILITY: February 12-14, 2010


RATE: PHP 19,995.00 NET

AVAILABILITY: February 13-14, 2010

NOTE: photos taken from the hotel's official web site

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cebu Pacific: This is Not a Review

my first Cebu Pacific paper ticket

Many of my friends and readers who stumbled upon this blog already asked me different questions about the country's largest budget airline Cebu Pacific. So here are my thoughts about this airline which I first had the chance to ride going to Iloilo with my family when it is barely a household name in the summer of 1996. Cebu Pacific has its good points and bad points so I am not in any way endorsing or discouraging you to become one of its loyal passenger.

look at the date of this ticket... April 3, 1996
  • I am very happy that they retired those Jurassic era DC-9 aircraft and replaced them with brand new Airbus and ATR so the safety concerns of most air travelers are not an issue to me. They are claiming to have the youngest fleet here in the Philippines so you can just relax and enjoy the flight when you ride Cebu Pacific.
  • Ticket price WITHOUT a seat sale: If the ticket price is the deciding factor for your airline choice in travelling to a local destination then I strongly encourage everyone who are planning to book a Cebu Pacific flight thru its web site to check first the web sites of Philippine Airlines or Zest Air. In my experience, sometimes Cebu Pacific is even pricier than two airlines. Although I used Cebu Pacific countless of times already I would always prefer Philippine Airlines over it specially if the price difference is insignificant.
  • Ticket price WITH a seat sale: Cebu Pacific is famous for their ubiquitous PISO fare and other seat sale which comes in catchy name. PISO fare seat sale is always a day to expect as the price of its domestic and international flights are most often cheaper than riding a taxi from Quezon City to my home in Las Pinas. Some seat sale are not worth it. If it would cost me more than 1,000 pesos for a one-way local trip then I would not make a fuss out of it.
  • As for the service, some flights I did enjoy and some were very forgettable. I had my share of 1, 2, 3 and even 8 hour-delayed flights not because of force majeur so I once avoided this airline for that reason alone. For the past months Cebu Pacific did improve their on-time performance as published in its web site so I congratulate them for that achievement. As for Philippine Airlines (PAL), they are advertising in their web site that they have a more than 90% on-time record for their domestic and international flights. I 100% believe that as for the past several flights I had with PAL I didn't experienced even a 1 minute delay. And also, don't expect any complimentary refreshments because it is a budget airline although during the late 1990s they are serving canned soda and junk food made by Universal Robina Corp.
  • I just wish that airline would revise the schedule of some of its international flights (Bangkok, Jakarta, Saigon etc.) because most people don't enjoy taking a red-eye flight. Arriving in your destination past midnight can be stressful as you are tired with the things you did for the whole day then you will endure a flight when you supposed to be sound asleep in your comfortable bed.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ready, Jet Set, Go!

Travel expos are here again. Next in line is the 2010 edition of the Travel Tour Expo of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association.

According to PTAA's web site, the event features two new segments – lifestyle (which will cover travel accessories, health and wellness products and services, culinary schools, car rentals and the like) and food sellers with lounge areas.

19 to 21 February 2010

SMX Convention Center Halls 2, 3 & 4,
Seashell Drive, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City

Opening Hours:
19 February - Friday
11 AM - 9 PM

20 February - Saturday
10 AM - 9 PM

21 February - Sunday
10 AM - 6 PM

Ticket booths close 30 minutes before end of show hours

For more information about this event visit

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My First Published Article

front cover of the 3rd issue of Manila Skies magazine

Spirit of Manila Airlines is a new budget airline currently operating at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport that serves the following destinations as of January 2010 according to wikipedia: Bahrain, Kuwait, Macau and Taiwan.

Its official inflight magazine is called Manila Skies. An associate editor of Manila Skies contacted me if I want to contribute an article for the 3rd issue of their magazine. It would be my first time writing an article for a publication so accepted the offer in a jiffy. You may click THIS to read the full article I wrote about the Damnoen Saduak floating market near Bangkok, Thailand.

None of my friends knew about this airline and I can't blame them because I never saw even a newspaper advertisement. I just hope that Spirit of Manila Airlines would prosper just like the leading national budget carrier Cebu Pacific.

MD-83 aircraft with Spirit of Manila livery