Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm Off to Butuan City... I'll be Back in a Jiffy!!!

I love long weekends but I love FREE tickets more. This trip is part of my FREE ticket hunting last September 19 when Cebu Pacific Air offered 50,000 domestic tickets for only PHP0.00 including taxes, administration fee and fuel surcharge.

Me and my 6 other friends have no clue what to do in Butuan and we still don't have a place to stay. I'm now humming the tune of "Que Sera Sera" as my philosophy for this CARAGA region trip is "whatever will be, will be." I'm glad that I was given free maps and travel guides of Butuan and Surigao during the Philippine Travel Mart I attended a few months ago at SM Megamall. My map and travel guide is now our lifeline to explore the city. It has the telephone numbers of recommended hotels in it and besides I don't think that hotels will be fully-booked so I am very confident that we can walk-in straight to the hotel without any problems of securing 3 rooms.

I know there is so much to see there in Butuan and the whole province of Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur so I will just let my two feet bring us to wherever. Our first stop is the Butuan City Tourism Office to ask for recommendations where to go, what to see, what to buy as souvenirs and of course what to eat. Anyway, I believe that there will be no dull moments if I'm in company of good friends. I'm now excited to arrive in Butuan as I smell adventure in the making!

Have a great long weekend!

P.S. Thank you to my blogger friend Dodong for allowing me to grab his Butuan photos.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My New Shirt & Friends from General Santos City

Me with my new friend Rosilie

I am so lucky to meet a wonderful blogger named Rosilie. I was in General Santos City (GenSan) last week just to buy a t-shirt being marketed to bloggers. All I want is a t-shirt so I traveled more than 2 hours from Davao City but upon reaching GenSan I didn't expect to gain new friends with my brief stay in the city. Even if I am a complete stranger to them, Rosilie, her husband and her sister treated me to lunch in a restaurant I didn't even bother to know because I am preoccupied chatting to all of them. That restaurant serves the best tasting garlic fried chicken I ever ate.

The generosity of Rosilie's family didn't end there as we went to KCC Mall and had coffee after a leisurely walk inside the confines of the airconditioned mall (a luxury for a very humid day). We just talked about blogging and almost anything under the sun. I am so envious to her adventure-junky husband as he almost tried every extreme sport there is. He hasn't yet gone skydiving but it is now included in his to-do list.

If you want to order "blogging-themed" t-shirts then all you have to do is contact Rosilie through her blog. She ships the shirts anywhere in the country. But when you personally buy your shirt at her store in GenSan I guarantee everyone that your purchase will come with a free friend or friends which to me is priceless.

The design of my blogger shirt is not one of these (see pictures below) as mine is a specially made limited edition type, hehehe ;)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Another of those 500-Peso Seat Sale

For those who want to travel between January 1 to March 18 next year. You should book your tickets now as Cebu Pacific revived its 500-peso ALL-IN seat sale to all its domestic destinations and ZERO fare to all its international destinations.

The sale period starts NOW until November 30, 2008 only. More than 400,000 seats are being allotted for this seat sale. For more information just go to the airline's website.

My Wordless Monday Picture Blog (Week 64)

Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm Off to Roxas City... I'll be Back in a Jiffy!!!

First of all, thank you again Cebu Pacific for this 2 roundtrip tickets to Roxas City, Capiz which you gave for FREE. Roxas is dubbed as the "Seafood Capital of the Philippines" as you can find almost anything edible that swim in abundance. My favorite seafood is oyster and when I once saw a truckload of oyster ready for distribution to nearby provinces I suddenly felt excitement in devouring tons of them. I love grilled or baked oysters with melted cheese, butter and garlic on top (the best in the world!!!). I mouth can't also wait to devour those grilled squid with lots of onion, tomato, ginger and garlic stuffed in their cavity.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Favorite Resort in Panglao Island, Bohol

I have been to Panglao Island in Bohol in 3 different instances and each time we were billeted in a different resort. Of the 3, my favorite is the boutique resort called Amarela. Beyond from its physical attributes which is very pleasing to the eyes is the ambiance you get that it feels you are really on a vacation although the whole of Panglao Island is open to public.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm Off to Cebu... I'll be Back in a Jiffy

picture taken from the official website of Quantum of Solace

Thank you Cebu Pacific Air for my free roundtrip ticket to Cebu! This would be my 2nd Cebu City trip in less than a month. I don't know what is my agenda in Cebu together with my friend. I would like to go back to Bantayan Island or explore Malapascua but we don't have enough time to do that. Maybe we will just stay in the city and watch the Quantum of Solace at Ayala Center and then indulge ourselves to a seafood buffet in one of the restaurants near the mall and then we would probably attend the mass service at the Basilica del Santo Nino de Cebu.

When I was in Cebu last month I tried my luck at Casino Filipino at the Waterfront Airport Hotel to kill time waiting for the boarding time, luckily I won enough money to pay for my dinner, terminal fee, a few packs of dried mangoes and taxi from NAIA 3 to my house. I guess I'll try it one more time and hope that lady luck is still on my side after a month. I only allow myself to lose up to 300 pesos before I head up to the door and never come back as gambling can be addictive.

I guess that's all it for my Cebu trip.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thank You Air Asia! No More Reason Not to Go on a Holiday

Air Asia claims to be the first airline in the world to do away with fuel surcharge. And to make everything more special to the riding public they are offering 500,000 FREE seats in the sense that you will just need to pay for an "Adminstrative Charge" and "Airport Taxes."

This is a very sweet deal as a roundtrip ticket to Kuala Lumpur from Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Pampanga will only set you back 1,100 pesos ($25) all-in. It is good to know that Air Asia offers a wide variety of destinations so if you love the beach you can go to Phuket or Bali. If you love old cities you can go to Siem Reap, Cambodia to see the Angkor Wat or Yogyakarta, Indonesia to see the Borubodur temple. If you love nature I highly recommend going to Vietnam to see Halong Bay or the breathtaking rock formations in Guilin, China.

You can go to any destinations in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Brunei, Laos etc. via Kuala Lumpur starting June 2009 for a total of less than 5,000 pesos all-in. That's a steal in itself! Less than 5,000 bucks for 4 plane rides to your destination beyond Kuala Lumpur. Me and my friends purchased tickets to Kuala Lumpur and Phuket for less than 4,000 pesos all-in. Book ASAP as the seat sale will run up to November 16 only.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My First Underwater Photography Stint

I own an Olympus digital camera that guarantees to be waterproof up to 33 feet and shockproof up to 6.6 feet. I have no plans to test its shockproof capability but to give justice to its waterproof feature I thought that I should start taking underwater photographs. I don't know if I do well with this attempt as a novice underwater photographer. The following images where just taken from the lovely infinity pool of Amarela Resort in Panglao, Bohol. There's nothing to see at the bottom of the pool so I just concentrated taking pictures of the beautifully colored building.

I also took underwater photographs few days ago in Boracay but it would be in a separate blog entry. I will try to enhance further my underwater photography skills there in Mactan in my next trip in several days. I am not yet a certified diver but I took scuba lessons before so if I have a budget I'll go diving during the weekend to take more underwater pictures.

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's an Olympic Year so I'm off to Boracay

it would be my first time to ride this very cute PAL Express Bombardier Q300

This is the fruit of my travel bargain hunting last September 12 at the 19th Philippine Travel Mart in SM Megamall. As an avid independent traveler I am not really a fan of organized or package tours. I love to research something about a place, I also love being my own tour guide and I don't want anybody to limit my time in visiting interesting places. But how can you resist a package from PAL Express consisting of roundtrip airfare, 4 days/3 nights accommodation at Escondido Resort, 3 breakfasts and airport-hotel-airport transfers for only 8,860 pesos for 2 persons (4,430 each). Is that a bargain or what? I know a bargain when I see one and upon learning about this rate I didn't left the booth of PAL Express until I got the tickets.

There is a package even lower than our 4,430 Boracay package. Air Philippines offered a 3-day package for Palawan for as low as 4,100 pesos which is almost the same banana. I hesitated going to Puerto Princesa on a package because I have a friend who lives there and I can stay in her house for free which I gratefully availed a year ago. I also have a free overnight stay which I will avail soon in a hotel in Puerto Princesa for refering a number of my friends to stay there. I don't have a friend who lives or work in Boracay so it is wiser to go to Boracay on a cheap package than in Puerto Princesa.

This would be my first time to try PAL Express and also my first time going straight to Boracay on an airplane. As my father is from Iloilo province, my previous 6 trips to Boracay all originated from Iloilo and one instance when my family tried the Ro-Ro Strong Republic Nautical Highway proudly being advocated by President Arroyo so I drove from Metro Manila all the way down to Iloilo with a stopover in Batangas, Mindoro and Boracay.

So now, to give justice to my post title... This is just a trivial analogy as I just noticed that since 1996 when I first saw the fine powdery white sand of Boracay I keep on returning on that island every Olympic year. I have been there the same year as the Atlanta Olympics (1996), Sydney Olympics (2000), Athens Olympics (2004) and now the Beijing Olympics (2008). Well, to keep in line with my sports-Boracay analogy, my three other non-Olympic year soujourns in Boracay all coincided with the regional SEA Games (1997, 1999 & 2005). So who says that sports and beach are not closely related? Hahaha! ;)

NOTE: I will not approve comments related to this post which will say that it is a corny analogy ;-)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Is Philippine Airlines Now a "semi" Budget Airline?

Asia's first airline and the country's premiere carrier Philippine Airlines has now what it calls EconoLight Class. Evidently it is a lower service class than what me and other are used to in economy class as it offers No-Frills service to its regional destinations for as low as $48++ and as low as 488 pesos all-in for domestic destinations. It is good that airfares continue to go down despite the present situation of the travel industry.

I am just a little bothered with the restrictions of availing this type of fare. According to the website the following are the fare conditions for EconoLight Class for regional destinations (Bangkok, Beijing, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Macau, Shanghai, Singapore and Taipei):

1. Free baggage allowance is 15 kilos (the usual for Economy Class is 20 kilos)
2. No meals (only water for domestic flights) (free soda, juice, water, coffee, tea & peanuts for international sectors)
3. No headsets
4. Infants and children travelling with adults holding EconoLight tickets will also have no amenities (No Bassinets/No Milk)
5. Not applicable for passengers who require special handling
6. No advance seat reservations
7. No Mabuhay Lounge Access regardless of membership level
8. Tickets are non-refundable, non-rebookable and non-reroutable

What??? No meals? As EconoLight passengers will be seated on the last row of the aircraft then I just might as well get used to just inhaling the smell of the newly heated meals in the galley which is only a few feet away from my seat for nearly 4 hours when I go to Jakarta because I am not entitled to a meal. At least you can munch that free peanuts all you want. Even if you may be not a fan of airline food, a box of bland piping hot chicken looks so much yummy than the ham sandwich bought from the airport concessionaire and has been in your carry-on for 6 hours already.

This EconoLight Class are for able bodied passengers only. It's so sad to know that my 84-year old grandfather and my cousin inflicted with polio cannot get cheap tickets for EconoLight Class because of their physical condition as they will have a hard time walking up to the last row of an aircraft. They should be contented with their regular Economy Class airfare.

EconoLight seats when utilizing an Airbus A330 aircraft for some flights to/from Cebu, Davao and selected regional destinations

Another thing, EconoLight Class are not for diabetics unless you want to starve for 3-4 hrs. when you go to Jakarta, Singapore or Bangkok. On the bright side, passengers can bring their own food. I love picnics 30,000 feet above sea level!

I'm sure that passengers don't care not having Philippine Airlines facilities and services when they buy a Cebu Pacific ticket because they know that they will ALL receive the same services and treatment inside a Cebu Pacific airplane. That is why there is also a curtain separating the business class passengers with the rest of the cattle class so that the airline can make their pampering service discreetly from the rest of the economy class. Maybe there will be also a curtain which would separate the EconoLight Class passenger in the last row of the airlplane in able for them not to smell the ubiquitous airline food being served to non-EconoLight passengers.

If passengers want a budget airline airfare with budget airline services and treatment then why should they fly with Philippine Airlines which in the end will only serve them as if they are riding a Cebu Pacific airplane? And in the first place not all EconoLight airfares are lower than Cebu Pacific airfares.

Well, it all boils down to this... would I try this EconoLight thing? Yes, why not, moreover if the EconoLight airfare is more competitive than Cebu Pacific and with better time of arrival/departure in my intended destination. I don't also mind seating on the last row of the aircraft. Many even believe that the safest part of an aircraft during an emergency landing or other situations is on the tail end. That is also why the black box is located at the back because there is where it can most likely to survive an accident. I would definitely try this EconoLight thing in one of my future flights but definitely not in any flight more than 2 hours.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Zest Air Seat Sale... the Philippines is More than Boracay, Cebu & Davao

De Havilland Dash-7 turbopropeller aircraft

I love competition! Now the rebranded airline Zest Air has a seat sale on all of its destinations for only 499 pesos which already includes fuel surcharge and government taxes. You must purchase the 499 bucks tickets up to November 8 if you plan to travel from January 15 to March 18, 2009. The good thing about this seat sale is that you can have your bags to be checked-in at the airport without any additional charge unlike the leading domestic budget airline. Zest Air may be considered as a missionary route airline to some extent as it offers destinations that other airlines would not offer because of being not that too profitable like Antique, Calbayog, Catarman, Marinduque, Masbate, Ormoc, Virac, Tawi-Tawi and Jolo. I'm very glad that there is an airline that connects these underdeveloped but very beautiful provinces to the rest of the country.

I think that Boracay, Cebu, Davao and other mainstream local destinations don't have the monopoly (technically speaking it's an oligopoly rather than a monopoly) of beautiful beaches, landscapes and fun activities. I've been to Antique, Calbayog and Catarman and they have many beautiful beaches, waterfalls and other thrills for the adventure vulture. As I don't have yet a digital camera 3 years ago that is why I don't have pictures of them to post here in my blog. If only Zest Air would extend the travel period to April and May I would love to go to Marinduque of Masbate as I have an inkling for small provinces like Camiguin, Guimaras and Siquijor so I know I would definitely enjoy my stay in Marinduque or Masbate.

Note: photograph taken from the official website of Zest Air