Wednesday, January 28, 2009

44 Places to go in 2009: Boracay

The New York Times released a list of 44 recommended places to visit in 2009. Thank you for my blogger friend Dong Ho for breaking this news. It is exhilarating to know that the #1 island destination of the Philippines is included in the list. Here is the description of Boracay according to the article:

"The next Phuket? The island of Boracay -known for its emerald water, white sand beaches and glassy lagoons- may be just that. Less than an hour from Manila by plane, this small, four-mile-long island has long been a destination of wealthy Filipinos. Now, a new breed of South Beach-style hotels is broadening the island's appeal. The Tides, a chic boutique hotel, has quickly become the pool-and-party spot for the Philippine jet set. And later this year, a Shangri-La hotel opens with 219 rooms and villas and a 61,000-square-foot spa on a private bay."

All Filipinos should be generally happy with this news. But, I just can't help to notice the first sentence of the description. Boracay should not be described comparing another great island, which is Phuket. Boracay has its own qualities and charm and so as Phuket. It is also an honor to be paired with very well known destinations like Chicago, Hawaii, Vienna etc. and at the same time "exotic" destinations like Bhutan, Zambia and Kazakhstan.

Boracay is also categorized under the "Luxury" section of the list rather than the "Frugal" section where Las Vegas and Buffalo, New York were batched. Come to think of it, for a Filipino point of view, it may be somewhat true as sometimes it is cheaper to buy a Manila-Hong Kong package tour rather than a Manila-Boracay package tour (well, it all depends on the season of course). As far as I am concerned my last trip to Boracay is almost a giveaway, it cost me only 4,300 pesos for a roundtrip airfare via PAL Express, 3 nights accommodation at Escondido Resort, 3 breakfasts and roundtrip airport transfer. You just need to know where to get cheap deals and when to go.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

PINK Sand Beach Anyone? I'm Off to Zamboanga

This would be my first time to set foot in Asia's Latin City... Zamboanga. Many would be a fan of white sand beaches but do you know that there is also a pink sand beach? The sand of the Great Santa Cruz Island, in its natural state is uniquely "pinkish." It is a coloration effect of pulverized rare red organ-pie coral from erosion mixed in with the white sand.

Aside from Santa Cruz Island you will not be able to find any pink sand beach here in Asia as it is very rare that if you want to find other pink sand beaches you must go to Hawaii, Greece or in the Caribbean.

Why is Zamboanga City dubbed as Asia's Latin City? The major language of the locals is known as Chavacano which is based on 70% Spanish words and the remaining 30% from Tagalog, Cebuano and other Philippine languages. It may also be because of the similarity of the traditions with Spain, particularly the patroness Our Lady of the Pillar which is also the Patroness of Spain.

*picture taken from

Friday, January 23, 2009

Zest Air All Year Round Fares

Zest Air (former Asian Spirit Airlines) is once again active in their marketing strategy as they released their all year round OKS fares in time for the Chinese New Year celebration. These one-way fares are applicable for flights originating/terminating in Manila.

Php688 ALL-IN for Busuanga, Marinduque, San Jose (Mindoro) and Cebu sectors

Php988 ALL-IN for Caticlan (Boracay), Calbayog, Catarman and Virac sectors

I know that Boracay fanatics will be very happy with this fares as I get a lot of questions from my friends regarding the price of Boracay flights for the months of April and May.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What 2009 May Bring

I love the year 2008 as it brought me to many wonderful places within and outside of the 7,107 islands of the Philippines. As a citizen of the world I therefore conclude that no matter where I go whether from the numerous islets that dot Halong Bay in Vietnam or the concrete jungles of Singapore it always resulted in the same excitement and pleasure seeing new things and meeting wonderful people along the way.

The past year also made me to explore more my beautiful country. After my 6-province journey in Eastern Visayas during the summer, I now officially visited all the provinces in the Visayas region. I will never forget the highlight of my 17-hour journey in a non-aircon bus from Tacloban, Leyte up to Albay in the Bicol region. As half the fun of travel is getting there, I did got that share of fun while sitting on that bus alongside the common people who are used to travel more than 24 hours just to get to Manila.

I always believe that many parts of the region of Mindanao offers a number of places and sights that every Filipinos should explore. Many will be afraid to venture or even set foot in that region but I guess as long as you have common sense while traveling you will be perfectly fine.

Lastly, thank you Cebu Pacific Air for the almost FREE seats last December 24, 2008, because of that my travels for the 1st quarter of 2009 are already in the drawing board. How can I resist a round-trip travel anywhere within the Philippines for just over $1.

I wish all avid travelers and would be avid travelers more journeys and adventure to come in 2009!

Monday, January 19, 2009

What Will I Remember of 2008

This post is overdue by 2 weeks, nevertheless, here it goes...

Traveling always brought me endless pleasure and many life changing experiences which I always want to reminisce over and over. I’ve been to many new places in and out of the 7,107 islands of the Philippines during the past year. Most of it are worth to remember and brag about and some are also worth forgetting.

More than the beauty of what a place might offer are the experiences that you may want your memory to retain forever so you can tell your family, friends and would be children and grandchildren. So now, before amnesia sets in what 2008 brought that made it as my best traveling year (so far), I would like to chronicle here in my blog just some of it which are still vivid in my memory. The following are in random order as they are all memorable in their own right.

Bantayan Island, Cebu (January 2008)

I consider Bantayan as the “friendliest island” in the country as the people there include the word hospitable in their daily vocabulary. We arrive in that island with the weather not cooperating but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The owner of Jegra John’s Resort volunteered for me to use his Mitsubishi Adventure so me and my companion will not be drenched in rain. But the moment we set-off to explore the 3 towns in that island the weather instantly.

Ogtong Beach in Bantayan

Bus ride from Tacloban City, Leyte to Daraga, Albay (April 2008)

I never thought that I would ride the bus ride of my life in Tacloban on my way to Legaspi. Who would forget a 17-hour ride in a non-airconditioned bus coupled with delays and with different characters as my seatmates. I just hope that the national government make improvements and pave the whole stretch of the Leyte-Samar highway. It may sound squimish but I just don't like the idea that a less than 12-hour trip took 17 hours.

San Juanico Bridge connecting Leyte & Samar provinces

Near disaster in Hanoi, Vietnam (April 2008)

Me and my travel buddy in Vietnam were born and raised in the city which made us familiar with the tricks & trade of “bad” people. Because of that near-pickpocket experience, from then on I always see to it that I have a small padlock for my backpack. One of my greatest fear while traveling is to loose or misplace your passport, money and credit cards that is why I am always on-guard.

Halong Bay in Vietnam

Couchsurfing friends in Bali & Jakarta (August 2008)

I will feature in one of my future posts why I think that founder of is a genius. Avid travelers will benefit from this idea. I made several friends during my trip in the "island of the gods" and in Jakarta. Haru, Sita, Benny, Kristin and Anita made my Indonesia trip extra super special. No professional tourguide can replace them as they all showed me and my buddy the true side of Bali and Jakarta.


Good and bad taxi drivers

Taxi drivers can either make your trip pleasant or they can be your worst nightmare. All of us who use this kind of transportation know what I mean so I need not explain any further. In my opinion, the best taxi drivers in this country are all in Baguio City and Davao City. It is disappointing to know that the bad taxi drivers are lurking almost anywhere outside of those cities.

Meeting new friends in General Santos City (November 2008)

I didn't expect that buying a blogger-themed T-shirt would come with a friend. I am really fortunate to meet Rosilie and her husband when I went to Gensan. I seemed that I am one of their relative because that is the kind of hospitality they gave me during my brief stay.

Free travels (last quarter of 2008)

Never in my wildest dream would I expect an airline to giveaway 100% FREE tickets to anyone who booked a flight last September 18. Up to now I am still grateful to Cebu Pacific Air because I, my family and several friends went to Cebu, Butuan, Davao, Legaspi, General Santos, Iloilo and Roxas City for FREE!

And now, I only pray that 2009 will bring me to more new places and meet new friends!

My Wordless Monday Picture Blog (Week 71)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stranded in Camiguin and Cagayan de Oro!

Just got back from my Cagayan de Oro-Camiguin trip with my 3 other travelmates. Our flight back to Manila was canceled twice and also the ferry from Camiguin back to the main island of Mindanao was canceled twice. In an instant, our 3-day vacation became a 6-day adventure and misadventure. I'm glad that I am in company of good friends so despite of our "bad luck" we never experienced a dull moment.

Because of the bad weather I decided to just reroute our return flight to Davao City. It is the best travel-related decision I made! If not for that we are still in Cagayan de Oro City (CDO) by now as the weather deteriorated rather than improved after we left. If you watch the evening news or read the newspaper you know what I mean. The local government of CDO said that the last time they encountered such a disaster was in the 1950's.

No pictures yet of our misadventures and the chaos at the Lumbia Airport in CDO, maybe in a few days...

Thank you God for the protection during our trip. Thank God also for Citibank for providing me a free Travel Inconvenience Protection insurance. I now need to wait 7-10 working days for the reimbursement form to arrive.

Friday, January 9, 2009

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

this shot was taken while I am enroute from Butuan City back to Manila

Guess where am I heading to today. . .

Clue, it is my favorite province here in the Philippines.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I Love Waterfalls!

1. My favorite so far is the Tinago Falls in the city of Iligan in Lanao del Norte.

2. The Maria Cristina Falls which is also in Iligan is the most well-known waterfalls in the country. It provides hydroelectric power to some parts of Mindanao and also helped Iligan City to attract many industries because of cheaper electricity.

3. I jumped off from the middle tier of Cambugahay Falls in Siquijor as evident in the photo above. It's not as tall as Maria Cristina or Tinago falls but I still consider it to be an adrenaline overload experience.

4. I can't find my photos of Katibawasan Falls in Camiguin. On the bright side, I will go to that island province again this weekend. I would like to thank my friend Jana for allowing me to grab this photo.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year to All


I pray that 2009 will bring us good fortune despite of the presence of an economic slowdown for the months to come.
May the new year bring us all to new exciting places & God protect us from harm when we get out of our home to explore and appreciate the beauty
of his creation. I look forward to see more interesting
places and meet wonderful people.
Have a safe, memorable and enjoyable travel(s) to you all.