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 http://tte.ptaa.org.ph/