Wednesday, October 29, 2008

ZEST Air: A New or Old Airline?

It's sad to know that my 4th favorite local airline Asian Spirit is now a thing of the past as it underwent rebranding and change of ownership. It's new business name is now Zest Air, Asia's most refreshing airline, according at least to its owners. The company name is so catchy from a consumer's point of view. I may view it as they are targeting young and single professionals who have a higher disposable income than young daddies and mommies out their. The company through its website promised to serve with enthusiasm and passion. Their passengers will feel the refreshing change of the Zest Air experience from the moment they book their tickets until they arrive their destinations. My most favorite line is: "Our passengers are the VIPs of Zestair."

The president and chief executive officer of Zest Air is Mr. Alfredo M. Yao, who is more popularly known as Juice King of the Philippines for being also the Chairman of Zest-O Corporation. How I miss the ubiquitous juice drink Zest-O, as it is part of my daily diet until my high-school years, specially my favorite strawberry and mango-orange flavors. So I guess, by now you already know the reason behind the name Zest Air.

As I always believe in the beauty of healthy competition, I hope this "new" airline will give its top rivals like Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air a run for their money. According to Zest Air's website it will offer some of the same aircraft as with Asian Spirit but they will also acquire new planes and it looks like that they will also be operating the Airbus A320 model. I know this will be a good investment for the airline.

It's good to start with an appealing brand name, so now all they have to do is offer value for money flights and in no time they can be on top of the industry.

So what's next? Will Cebu Pacific change its name into Chippy Airlines or C2 Airlines? Will Philippine Airlines change its name into Tanduay Airlines or Allied Airlines? I guess only time will tell although I love the sound of Chippy Airlines, hahaha!

Friday, October 24, 2008

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

I've been to Iloilo province countless of times already as it is the homeland of my father. But this will be the first instance that we will stay in a hotel as it will be the wedding of my older cousin Dr. Ramil. For the first time also I will feel like a tourist there because of our hotel stay as it would be impossible to fit more than 4 families inside our Iloilo house and it would be more convenient to stay in a hotel than in our other relatives.

I never felt that I am just a visitor in Iloilo as I can roam the city with ease and I never asked for directions even if I drive by myself. Although, I am not that familiar with the public transportation system there as I either drive or take a taxi when nobody is available to fetch me at the airport. I'm used to travel alone to Iloilo starting when I was 12 years old when my dad will just drop me off at the Domestic Airport and then my grandfather will fetch me at Iloilo Airport and vise-versa.

My dad is among the busiest person during this event as starting last week here in Manila he kept on shuttling all of our relatives either from NAIA or just the domestic airport and then his role will be duplicated in Iloilo as he will be the official airport meet-and-greet personnel. Our relatives from the U.S. either arrived via Northwest Airlines (late evening flight), Korean Air (afternoon flight) or Philippine Airlines (early morning flight) so I am very proud of the time management skills my dad had.

photo taken from

Friday, October 17, 2008

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

from my January 2008 visit

As evident in my previous posts if you follow this blog that I love FREE/subsidized travels (particularly free tickets). This time it is not due to the generosity of Cebu Pacific Air and I already used up my Mabuhay Miles from Philippine Airlines to upgrade my roundtrip Iloilo ticket to business class several months ago.

My very good friend Sukhbir, a Philippine-born Indian who is now a resident of Canada but works in the U.S., generously offered me to accompany him because he wants to go to a beach. It is too good to resist as he will be paying a big chunk for this beach trip. I would probably not go if I will pay for my expenses as I have many FREE trips to come in the coming weeks courtesy of Cebu Pacific. This is his first time to visit the Philippines in 6 years so he wants to explore the islands as he only been around just in Luzon during our high-school days.

He set a generous budget for both of us and I managed to get good deals from Triple-A category resorts in Panglao (Bohol) and in Mactan Island (Cebu) with few thousands of pesos more to spare. I could have even booked us business class tickets but we rather spend the extra budget in hotel food and maybe a massage by the beach. He is not interested to do a country tour of both provinces rather he just like to get a sunburn as when he goes back to Canada next month it would be the start of winter. I hope the weather would cooperate so he could defeat the purpose of visiting the Philippines. As for me I don't mind it as the saying goes"beggars can't be choosers" and I've been to those provinces 2x already.

I'm so happy that I chanced upon Ms. Lilette Gacera who operates Angelbert Tourists Transport Services. She seemed to be very accommodating and she answered all my queries regarding the tour I specifically want. She gave me a very good deal for the wholeday tour for Bohol. I highly suggest everyone to contact her mobile at (917) 304-2385 or email if you need transportation or even a good resort/hotel anywhere in Bohol. Of the countless transport & tour operators who were receommended by many travel sites, I know I made the right choice.

I like Panglao more than Boracay as it has a charm of being like Boracay in terms of physical beauty but with less crowd and less commercial activities. Panglao and Boracay are the same in many ways as sometimes my photographs of Panglao are being mistakenly identified by my Boracay-lover friends as Boracay. I don't know if its a good or bad sign that you can't find fastfood chains Andok's, Mang Inasal and Yellow Cab in Panglao. Panglao is definitely much expensive than Boracay in terms of accommodation, restaurants and even transportation as there are more demand than supply of everything there.

I am not a stranger to Cebu but I have no idea what the beaches in Mactan Island looks like as I've only seen them from afar during takeoff & landings at Mactan International Airport. I've only been to the beaches of Bantayan Island in Northern Cebu but not Mactan. It's good to know that we got a resort with a private secluded beach so there will be no jostling of a good spot with other vacationers.

I have a problem though... I will be attending a cousin's wedding and family reunion on Oct. 25 in Iloilo City so I can't bask in the sun very long as I want my best face forward during the two important events, not a sunburned peeling face ;)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

PAGCOR Tower Manila

This is an artist's impression of the proposed PAGCOR Tower to be erected within the PAGCOR Entertainment City near the SM Mall of Asia. Upon completion it will be the tallest tower in the world with a height of more than 650 meters. Many might confuse the tallest tower from the tallest building, it's not the same banana. Currently, the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada is the world's tallest tower with a height of 553 meters.

A tower differs from a building in the sense that buildings have floors and is designed for residential, business or manufacturing use. The world's tallest towers are principally telecommunication towers and while they may have observation decks or restaurants, they do not have floors all the way up. I have been to the 5th tallest tower in the world, the Menara Kuala Lumpur Tower in Malaysia, and I love its revolving restaurant which serves daily buffet dinners.

The PAGCOR Entertainment City complex will be built in three phases on 800 hectares of reclaimed land. The first phase will host a hotel-resort and a theme park. The next two phases will have retirement villages and entertainment centers. Almost 90 percent of the funds for the project will come from foreign investors. Other funders from Japan, Europe and U.S. and South Korea have also signified interest in financing the project.

The 5 tallest towers in the world

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC)

me with Camarines Sur Governor L-Ray Villafuerte who is an avid promoter of wakeboarding

The following are from what I remember from our recent trip to CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC) in Pili, Camarines Sur. I will only suggest what I and my friends personally experienced to make my suggestions as accurate as possible. I cannot fully trust my brain to remember everything so if anyone reading this has a question just leave a comment here in my blog.

How we got there: The most convenient way is to fly. Cebu Pacific Air and Air Philippines have daily morning flights to Naga from Manila. If you book your stay inside CWC a complimentary shuttle will be made available upon exiting the Naga Airport. Same goes for your return flight to Manila, the CWC shuttle will be making its round at about 6:30AM to take you to the airport just in time for your morning return flight. Don't forget to mention your flight details upon booking to avail of the free airport shuttle.

Where to stay: The most talked about accommodation at CWC is the Villa del Ray containers. The containers are all located just across from the cable lake so it is the most convenient for cable riders. The Green container which sleeps 2 only cost Php1,000 per night while the Blue and Red containers cost Php2,850 per night and can accommodate up to 4 persons. I had a comfortable stay as the bed is firm and you will be provided with 2 pillows per person. The bathroom is spacious with a high-pressure shower. We stayed at container nos. 101, 102, 108 & 109. All are with acceptable condition with room 102 as the best among the four. You can't ask for more for a 1,000 value accommodation which includes roundtrip airport transfers.

green and blue trailers

Wakeboarding or Kneeboarding: For beginners, it is required that you learn how to kneeboard first just to have a feel how it is like being dragged by a cable on top of a board. We only availed of the one hour kneeboarding just to test our skills. It costs 165 + 100 pesos equipment deposit. Every cent was worth it. The adrenalin rush I gained definitely was worth more than 265 pesos. After an hour and a total of 4 rounds, I don't anymore have the strength to hold on to the cable handle as every much in my body from the neck down to my legs were aching. My first try only resulted in a few feet away from the starting block but the succeeding tries were a success.

Other facilities and services: For those who would like to sample Bicolano dishes you would not be disappointed as the CWC restaurant serves laing, pinangat and even laing pizza. They have pastas, steaks, sandwiches, pizzas, rice meals and varried Filipino, Japanese and Korean staples available from 7:00AM to 12 midnight. For chlorine lovers, they have a big swimming pool besides the clubhouse but it is open only up to 7:30PM. There is a skateboard and bike park but we never tried that so I can't say anything about it. A scheduled two-way shuttle service is also available for those who would want to visit the town center of Naga. We took the 2:00PM and I think the last one is at 7:00PM from CWC. Just inform the reception if availing of this service.

Our stay and experience at CWC were all worth it whatever it cost us as the services we received from CWC were at a premium. The staff we encountered starting from the airport shuttle coordinator, receptionist, housekeeping attendants, the patient kneeboarding instructors, waiters at the clubhouse and security personnel were all aware of their duties and are all trained to please their guests.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Halal Chowking?... (Chowking Mall Ciputra branch)

Chowking at Mall Ciputra

For Filipinos, Chowking is a market leader in the Chinese fast food industry. I love their sweet-and-sour pork and asado siopao (char siu pork buns). During my recent trip to Indonesia I found out that Chowking already invaded the capital with several branches in Jakarta's malls. But of course as Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country it is expected for Chowking to sell the Halal version of its offerings. Obviously, you can't find pork siomai and my favorite sweet-and-sour pork there. I haven't tried the chicken siomai and the Chicken Supreme. I forgot the name of what I tried because of its Indonesian translation. I would really like to try the "es salju campur" a.k.a. halo-halo here in the Philippines but I am so full when I finished all what I ordered (take note, I ate what is pictured below barely 3 hours after eating a buffet breakfast at the hotel).

What is my verdict about the food I ate at a Chowking in Jakarta? Even the soup does not taste the same as the one here in the Philippines. The kangkong doesn't have a bagoong (shrimp paste) with it instead they will give you toasted garlic to top it off. The beef was marinated and cooked like tapa, a little sweet with a hint of sourness, topped with toasted sesame seeds. In other words, I love it!