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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Batad / Banaue Rice Terraces Travel Guide


  • Banaue Rice Terraces, Banaue, Ifugao

  • Dubbed as the "Eight Wonder of the World," the Banaue Rice Terraces start from the base of the mountain range and reach up to several thousand feet high. It is said that their length, put end to end, would encircle half of the globe. Made 2,000 years ago, these rice terraces manifest the engineering skill and ingenuity of the sturdy Ifugaos. Streams and springs found in the mountains were tapped and channeled into irrigation canals that run downhill through the rice terraces.

  • Batad Rice Terraces, Banaue, Ifugao

  • Located at Barangay Batad in Banaue, these rice terraces are shaped like an amphitheater. The Batad Rice Terraces can be reached by a 12-kilometer ride from Banaue Hotel to the junction, followed by a 2-hour trek up and down through mountain trails, an hour trek around the terraces, another 2-hour back up to the junction. (You may proceed to Tappiya Falls and may opt to camp overnight in Batad.) Allocate one full day for this.


    * Tam-an village - minutes walk behind Banaue Hotel, it's an old village in Banaue, where native huts and souvenirs are available.
    * Banaue Rice Terraces Viewpoint - there are several decks, where one can get a good view of the rice terraces. One viewpoint is the one featured on the one thousand peso bill.


    Banue Hotel & Youth Hostel (073-3864087)
    this is the only hotel in the area, this high rise building sits on top of the hill managed by Philippine Tourism Authority’s (PTA). Room rates starts from P2,300 and bed space available at P200/bed space.

    Other budget accommodation ranging from P200 to P600 are also available Banaue View Inn (073-3864078), People's Lodge & Restaurant (073-3864014), New Wonder Lodge (073-3864021), Greenview Lodge (073-3864021), Sanafe Lodge (073-3364085).


    People's Lodge & Restaurant, Banaue Hotel, Hidden Valley Restaurant


    * 10 hour land trip per way from Manila to Banaue (with leisurely stop)
    * To trek for hours on the terraces unless you opt see it only at the view deck
    * Tours are optional and managed at the Banaue Tourist Information Center at fixed rates located at town center. (same rate available at Banaue Hotel)
    * 3-star hotel accommodations in Banaue Hotel or very basic accommodations in a lodge
    * Spectacular view of Rice Terraces; we opted to trek Batad Rice Terraces since traveller reviews it's more picturesque than Banaue, and true enough it is awesome!
    * Very Rough roads
    * Cool weather


    1. By private van.

    Two alternate routes via Baguio City. First is via Halsema Mountain Trail and Bontoc, Mt. Province (8 hrs-441kms). Second, is from Baguio City to Banaue via Nueva Ecija (8-9 hrs). Total travel time is approximately 10 hours with lazy stops.

    2. Take the public transport.

    Airconditioned Autobus leaves Manila at 10pm daily, and with 2-3 brief stopovers along the way, the bus arrived in Banaue at 7am.

    MY DIY POST TRIP ACCOUNTING (December 2006):
    P8,000/pax for group of 6 inclusive of:

    * private van with 2 drivers en route: Manila-Banaue-Sagada (via Bontoc)-Manila (via Baguio)
    * We booked our 8-seater hi-ace through WGC Comml, Rosario Pasig - tel# 6275105 sun cel#09228791716 at P3,000/day, they were kind enough to accommodate our last minute advice, the shocks wasn't so good, if you're willing to shell out more, find a vehicle with good shock absorber since you'll be in for a very bumpy ride.
    * 4D/3N full-board (1N at Banaue Hotel, 2N at St. Joseph Inn - private bath with hot/cold shower)
    * Guided Trek in Batad Rice Terraces (P1,500/jeep), Banaue, Spelunking in Sumaging Cave, Site Seeing in Lumiang Burial Cave, Echo Valley, St. Mary's Church, view of Sugong Hanging Coffins.
    * Our Itinerary:
    * Day1 - 10 hour land trip from Manila to Banaue, overnight in Banaue Hotel - Banaue
    * Day2 - 5 hour trek in Batad Rice Terraces, evening land trip to Sagada (risky!), overnight in St. Joseph Inn - Sagada
    * Day3 - Spelunking in Sumaging Cave and sightseeing, overnight in St. Joseph Inn - Sagada
    * Day4 - land trip from Sagada to Manila via Baguio

    more Banaue travel guide at
    for hassle free vacation, join pre-arranged budget tours at

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    Ayala Malls Cinema Directory

    You may reserve and buy tickets online through

    Alabang Town Center
    G/F New Entertainment Complex
    Alabang Town Center
    Alabang Zapote Road
    Muntinlupa City
    +63(2) 850-8931
    +63(2) 842-2289
    Glorietta 4
    4th Level Glorietta 4
    Ayala Center
    Makati City
    +63(2) 752-7880
    +63(2) 752-7882
    Greenbelt 1
    2nd Level Greenbelt 1 Mall
    Greenbelt Square
    Ayala Center
    Makati City
    +63(2) 750-4180
    +63(2) 750-4181

    Greenbelt 3
    3rd Level Greenbelt 3 Mall
    Greenbelt Square
    Ayala Center
    Makati City
    +63(2) 757-3860
    +63(2) 757-3861
    +63(2) 757-3862
    Market! Market!
    5th Level Market! Market!
    Bonifacio Global City
    Taguig City
    +63(2) 886-7515
    +63(2) 886-7516
    M4 TriNoma Bldg. EDSA cor. North Ave.
    Quezon City
    +63(2) 901-3695
    +63(2) 901-3596



    Ayala Center Cebu
    4th Level Ayala Center Cebu
    Cebu Business Park
    Cebu City
    +63 (32) 415-8489
    Level 3
    Marquee Mall
    Angeles City
    +63(45) 304-0693
    +63(45) 304-0682

    SM Cinema Directory

    SM Cinema Branches
    Corporate Info | Online Inquiry | SM Cinema Branches
    SM CINEMA BACOLOD G/F SM City Bacolod, Bgy. 062 Poblacion, Reclamation Area, Bacolod City
    (034) 468-0168
    SM CINEMA BACOOR 3/F SM City Bacoor, Gen. Aguinaldo cor. Tirona Highway, Bacoor, Cavite
    (046) 417-3868 VOIP 1602
    SM CINEMA BAGUIO 3/F SM City Baguio, Luneta Hill, Upper Session Road, Baguio City
    (074) 619-7838-39-41
    SM CINEMA BALIWAG 2/F SM City Baliwag, DRT Highway, Bgy. Pagala, Baliwag, Bulacan
    (044) 892-0422
    SM CINEMA  BATANGAS 2/F SM City Batangas, Bgy. Pallocan Kanluran, Batangas City, Batangas
    SM CINEMA BICUTAN 2/F SM City Bicutan, Doña Soledad Ave., Bgy. Don Bosco, Parañaque City
    776-3055, 776-3056
    SM CINEMA CEBU 3/F SM City Cebu, North Reclamation Area, Cebu City
    (032) 231-3876
    SM CINEMA CLARK 2/F SM City Clark, M.A. Roxas Highway, Clark Special Economic Zone, Clark Field, Pampanga
    (045) 625-5845, (02) 584-4012
    SM CINEMA CAGAYAN DE ORO 2/F SM City Cagayan De Oro, Bgy. Upper Carmen, Cagayan De Oro City, Misamis Oriental
    (088) 859-2884-86 VOIP 1640/1641
    SM CINEMA DAVAO 2/F SM City Davao, Quimpo Blvd. cor. Tulip Drive, Ecoland Subd., Matina, Davao City
    (082) 297-6998
    SM CINEMA DASMARINAS 2/F SM City Dasmariñas, Governor’s Drive, Bgy. Sampalok 1, Dasmariñas, Cavite
    (046) 432-3201-03 loc 135
    SM CINEMA FAIRVIEW 3/F SM City Fairview, Quirino Highway cor. Regalado Ave., Greater Lagro, Quezon City
    SM CINEMA ILOILO 3/F SM City Iloilo, Benigno Aquino Ave., Diversion Road, Mandurriao, Iloilo City
    (033) 320-9422
    SM CINEMA LIPA 2/F SM City Lipa, Ayala Highway, Marauoy, Lipa City, Batangas
    (043) 784-0367-0368
    SM CINEMA LUCENA 3/F SM City Lucena, Dalahican cor. Pagbilao Road, National Road, Lucena City
    (042) 710-8977
    SM CINEMA MALL OF ASIA 2/F Entertainment Bldg., SM Mall of Asia, SM Central Business Park, Bay City, Pasay City
    (632) 556-0104, 556-0105
    SM CINEMA MANILA 3/F SM City Manila, Concepcion cor. Arroceros and San Marcelino Sts., Manila
    (632) 523-9240
    SM CINEMA MARIKINA 3/F SM City Marikina, Marcos Highway, Brgy. Kalumpang, MarIkina City
    (632) 477-1829
    SM CINEMA MARILAO 2/F SM City Marilao, Bgy. Ibayo, McArthur Highway, Marilao, Bulacan
    (044) 933-2013-17 loc. 111/113
    SM CINEMA MEGAMALL 3/F SM Megamall Bldg. A, EDSA cor. Julia Vargas Ave., Mandaluyong City
    (632) 633-1901
    SM CINEMA MOLINO 2/F SM Supercenter Molino, Bgy. Molino IV, Bacoor, Cavite
    (046) 474-3160
    SM CINEMA MUNTINLUPA 2/F SM Supercenter Muntinlupa, National Road, Brgy. Tunasan, Muntinlupa City
    (632) 659-1642
    SM CINEMA NAGA CBD II, Brgy. Triangulo, Naga City, Camarines Sur
    (054) 472-0331-34
    SM CINEMA NORTH EDSA 2/F SM City North EDSA, EDSA cor. North Ave., Quezon City
    (632) 929-5452
    SM CINEMA PAMPANGA 2/F SM City Pampanga, Bgy. San Jose, City of San Fernando, Pampanga
    (045) 963-7681-85
    THE PODIUM 5/F The Podium, ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City
    (632) 638-9781 loc. 129
    SM CINEMA ROSALES MacArthur Highway , Barangay Carmen East, Rosales, Pangasinan
    SM CINEMA ROSARIO 2/F SM City Rosario, PNOC St., Tejeros Convention Rosario,  Cavite
    489-8696, 584-4313
    SM CINEMA SAN LAZARO 3/F SM City San Lazaro, F. Huertas cor. A. H. Lacson Sts., Sta. Cruz, Manila
    (632) 786-2488
    SM CINEMA STA. MESA 4/F SM City Sta. Mesa, Ramon Magsaysay cor. Araneta Ave., Sta. Mesa, Quezon City
    (632) 716-1416
    SM CINEMA SOUTHMALL 3/F SM Southmall, Alabang-Zapote Road, Las Piñas City
    (632) 806-6888, 806-6782
    SM CINEMA SUCAT 3/F SM City Sucat, Dr. A. Santos Ave., Bgy. San Dionisio, Sucat Road, Parañaque City
    (632) 829-4975, 829-4976
    SM CINEMA STA. ROSA 2/F SM City Sta. Rosa, National Highway, Bgy. Tagapo, City of Sta. Rosa, Laguna
    901-2025, 901-2026
    SM CINEMA TAYTAY 2/F SM City Taytay, Brgy. Dolores, Taytay Rizal
    3/F SM Supercenter Valenzuela, McArthur Highway, Brgy. Karuhatan, Valenzuela City

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    Diving in Dumaguete

    We went on a 4-hour landtrip then on a roll on roll off (RORO) at Santander, the Southern tip of Cebu, for a diving trip to Dumaguete. I was excited to use my newly purchased Aladin Prime dive computer.

    Day 1, dive 1 & 2: Dive Dauin [74ft, 66mins] and Masaplod [57ft, 66mins]

    L-R: leaffish, mating crabs, frogfish, clownfish, blue-spotted stingray, pufferfish, sea turtle, pipefish, scorpionfish

    Diving in Cebu: Moalboal Sardine Run and Thresher Shark

    It has been three years since my first and last dive in Moalboal.  It wasn't such a pleasant experience, we didn't see much at that time and it turned out to be 3 of my dive buddies' last dive.

    A few weeks ago, it was the talk of the town. There have been consistent sightings of thresher sharks, whale shark and overwhelming school of sardines. Since then there was a renewed interest to visit the place by many including me.

    Getting there:

    Sunday, June 26, 2011

    Luxury Island Playground: Misibis Bay Resort, Cagraray Island

    Unexpected weekend getaway at Misibis Bay with best travel buds (thanks for the company, even with such short notice). This is such a welcome break after all the cluttered thoughts.  Misibis Bay is a luxury playground, tucked away on one side of Cagraray island. 

    Luxury Island Playground: Things to Do at Misibis Bay Resort, Cagraray Island


    If you come to Misibis Bay Resort, you come to make the most out of it as a luxury island playground.  It was well worth it to get the package that includes unlimited use of non-motorized sports and limited use of selected motorized activities like we did.  For three days, two nights, these were the activities in lined for us:

    1.  30-minute ATV at Eco-energy Park Adventure Zone (P3,000/hour)

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    Danao, Bohol: Eco Adventure Tourism - EAT Danao

    A visit to Bohol with no Tarsiers, no Chocolate Hills, no loboc river cruise...
    We got news about this place from RCTV (local TV lifestyle channel) and Cebu Pacific's Oct-Nov 2007 issue of Smile Magazine. I wasn't so eager about the trip since I've already had an awesome exhausting experience trekking in Batad Rice Terraces and spelunking at Sagada in Northern Luzon in 2006. But I can't allow myself to miss the fun while my friends are enjoying it... so I went along.

    Wahig River

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Surfing in Siargao and Island Hopping in Bucas Grande

    Along with my travel buddies and new recruits, we finally set foot in Siargao in November 2009, more than two years after "siargao daw".
    A series of typhoon came a week before our trip.  Luckily when the day came, the skies began to clear up.  Thank God for sunny days.

    With a charm of its own, Siargao has remained rustic and provincial inspite of the increasing number of tourist coming in.  Probably, the influx is still not enough, peak surfing season does not last longer than three months and there seemed to be no other sustainable development in the area.


    • From Cebu to Siargao Island:  
    Cebu Pacific fly MON/FRI departing CEBU at 10:40am and returning from SIARGAO at 11:50am. There are connecting Cebu Pacific flights from MANILA so please check website for further details on departure times from Manila to connect with the CEBU flight to SIARGAO. You can purchase e-tickets on-line.
    Be aware there is a check-in luggage limit of 15kg for this flight and excess luggage is charged at PHP100/kg. If you are bringing surfboards you need to check the box for Sport Equipment and pay an extra PHP1,000 each way.

    • From Manila to Siargao via Surigao or Cebu:
    Cebu Pacific have flights from Manila via Cebu to Siargao island on MON & FRI as per above and this is the easiest way to get to the island. You will have a transit time in Cebu but can request for your baggage to be checked all the way through to Siargao.

    Air Phil Express fly daily from MANILA to SURIGAO City and you can book online through Flights currently depart at 09:40am from Manila and 11:20am from Surigao City. It's a tight connection to make the last ferry that departs Surigao pier at 12 noon to Siargao island so if you miss the boat you will either have to stay overnight in Surigao or we can assist with organising a private pump boat to bring you to the island.

    • By Boat:

    There is also the overnight boat option from Cebu to Surigao City with Cokaliong Shipping Lines.
    The ferry departs Cebu at 7pm daily except for Sundays. From Surigao City to Cebu there is no ferry on Mondays.

    Van transfer from Sayak airport on Siargao to Cloud 9 takes about 45 minutes.
    Van transfer from Dapa pier on Siargao to Cloud 9 takes about 30 minutes.


    If you wish to do nothing else but surf, you can stay along the shore of Cloud 9.  However, we opted to stay in General Luna since most restaurants are here.  General Luna is about 10 minutes away by motorbike to Cloud 9.

    • Accommodation near Cloud 9:

    Ocean 101 Beach Resort
    Cloud 9, Gen. Luna, Siargao Island
    Surigao del Norte, Philippines
    Mobile: (63) 910 8480893 / (63) 919 8268837
    Rate: $16 to $32 per room

    Patrick's on Cloud 9
    Gen. Luna, Surigao Del Norte 8419, Philippines 
    If you have any questions prior to your reservation you may call or text us
    Mobile : (63) 920 402-4356 - Elizabeth speaks English, Tagalog and Visyan
    (63) 929-345-5566 – Andreas speaks English and German
    (63) 920-892-9727 – Front Desk – speaks English and Visyan
    Rate: P1,200 to 1,700 per room

    Sagana Surf Resort
    Phone : +63 (0) 919 8095769 Gerry Degan
    Rate: P3,300/person/night

    Accomodation at General Luna town proper:

    Cherinicole Beach Resort
    Mobile: +63-918-244-4407 or +63-928-609-8963
    Rate: P1,000 to 2,500/room

    Patrick's on the Beach
    PHONE:  (+63) 9184816483 / (+63) 9204024356

    Cabuntog Lodge (Beach Resort)
    government run by Mayor Cecilia Rusillon / Ms. Miriam Podadera & Mr Vic Solloso
    Mobile: +639193632507 

    3 Deluxe AC Cottages (4 pax / cott) Php 1,650 / cott (Php 200/extra)
    2 non-AC Cottages (2 pax / cott) Php 880 / cott (Php 150 / extra)
    1 AC Log Cabin for 10 pax Php 2,500/ cott (Php 200/ extra)
    1 AC Log Cabin for 20 pax Php 5,000/ cott (Php 200/ extra)
    20 non-AC rooms with beds (Bunkhouse) Php 165/pax

    • Luxury boutique resorts:

    Kalinaw Resort
    Rate: P7900 to 14400/room

    Dedon Island Resort
    an island resort.

    Day 1:  Arriving in Siargao

    aerial view of siargao

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Photoholic Ilocos: Travel Photography Workshop with Travel Factor and Cedric Valera

    Photoholic Ilocos is a trip to Ilocos organized by Travel Factor. Photoholics is a modern day linggo which refers to those addicts to face the camera or take photographs. It started out as a venue for knowledge sharing among hobbyist.

    A big plus to the trip was their first ever photography workshop facilitated by Cedric Valera. I love to travel and learning to love photography. What could be better than having both at the same time. Undeniably, having a digital camera is fast becoming like having a mobile phone.

    I had to borrow a DSLR for the trip and had to cram reading the manual before we left. For someone who had no background on digital photography, I was challenged and at times frustrated by the workshop not to mention the assignment that went with it. Sir Ced have shared a lot of travel photography tips and he has successfully shared those with his bubbly self and got away with critiquing our shots with his funny antics!

    Let me share some tips I learned during the workshop:

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Sagada Travel Guide: Spelunking Sumaging Cave and more

    It has been more than two years, the memories of my Lakbay Cordillera still wows me. :) If there is anywhere in Philippines that should not be missed, I'd say a trip to Banaue and Sagada. The long ride was tiring but it was still worth all the hassle, at least once in your life.

    If you want to go underground without special training and equipment, Sagada is your best bet. The town sits in a limestone valley riddled with over 60 known caves. The Sagada caves feature shimmering underground streams with golden or silvery stalactite and stalagmite formations and cool natural pools inside.
    map of Sagada


    I'm writing in the comforts of my bed, overlooking the sea. (Our room overlooks the sea!) I'm on vacation (I'll be writing about my destination soon). This is such a welcome break from all the fuzz over the past months. The silence is deafening (my roommate is playing plants and zombies for hours today). The sounds of the waves outside are playing on my head. My thoughts remained cluttered.
    i can tuck in bed all day.

    Today, Bo Sanchez wrote about pencils, of all stuff. And I quote,

    "You can't be distracted, or you endanger your very existence. You must be focused on one thing. What is your one thing?"

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Batanes: the Scotland of the Philippines

    I was off to a well deserved break after the tax men came knocking on the door that left me sleepless and restless for a time.

    We had to be awake by three in the morning for our early morning flight. But my blogsy friend Nina was right, we had to wait, flights don't leave earlier than six. "Finally!" is what we blurted out when we landed in Basco, Batanes. After months of hullabaloo, we safely landed aboard the 30-seater plane of seair together with a group of 19 joining the photo safari of Mandy Navasero. See my reviews about the photo safari here.

    The view of Mt. Iraya and a stylish stone house airport terminal greeted us on the runway of Basco Airport. We were met at the airport by a local guide. Mang Roger is a typical Ivatan local: hardworking, hospitable and jack of all trade. He was more than just a tour guide. Aboard the jeepney, some were seated on the roof, a thrilling ride zipping on that winding road cliff of Batan. Batanes here we come!

    Clockwise (L-R): Batanes runway with Mt. Iraya, Seair, Jeepney Ride, Basco Airport Terminal


    First stop was a fifteen minute spelunking in a World War III Japanese Tunnel. True to popular sayings, there's light at the end of the tunnel. As we exit the tunnel, it was our first view of the hedgerow. Hedgerow is a closely spaced shrubs that serves as barriers, protection from wind and prevents soil erosion. These hedgerow are popular in Scotland which earned Batanes the name, Scotland of the Philippines.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Batanes Photo Safari with Mandy Navasero

    We booked this tour five months before the scheduled trip. With early bird discount, we paid P20,000 all inclusive of travel photography workshop, full board and lodging, and airfare from Manila to Basco with Zest Air. Regular rate is at P25,000.

    Zest Air flights are suspended due to unfortunate events. With a sigh of relief we were accommodated with Seair. A few days before the trip, we were informed that our flight was cancelled. It would have been lovely to experience Batanes with the cold front but we were left with no choice but to reschedule it on a later date. Two weeks ago, we finally land on Basco, Batanes at the height of summer.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Zipline in Cebu and around the Philippines

    There has been much hullabaloo about the hostage crisis, I wasn't around to see the live stream, so it might not have struck me as much as it did to others, I was off to some place more peaceful. Nevertheless, it was shameful and it definitely put a slump on Philippines' tourism.

    Anyway, what's up Philippines? Aside from the soaring index of the stock market (I have yet to sell my stocks, is it time?) I'm getting feeds from facebook and here on google, about the ziplines hanging up around the Philippines. Is this a craze? If it is, I am so out! I haven't tried one in my entire life, and that's so sad. My cousins are coming over two weeks from now and they are bugging me to go on one, why not!?

    Fine Dining in Cebu: Olio, Corner Table, Anzani, Maya

    Knowing my grandfather's struggle from rags to riches and my mom's patriarchal family upbringing, I've been raised to live a frugal life. Amongst my childhood friends, they knew me as someone who's very frugal and some mistake me for being a miser. The truth is, as school kids, we were not given monetary allowances. On better days, my aunt offered to give a few bucks, ten pesos perhaps. Somehow this left a strong influence on me, trying to stretch every peso because it is never easy to earn one. Once I started earning my own paycheck, I'm constantly saving up for rainy days yet maintained to be financially independent for my own needs and wants.

    I have different sets of friends from different walks of life. There are those who tries to make ends meet, hanging out with them makes you appreciate life's little pleasures. There are those who have rose from their ranks, hanging out with them makes you appreciate the fruits of your own hardwork. There are those who are born with a silver spoon, hanging out with them makes you savor life.

    Amongst those who knows how to savor life, foodtripping is one of our bonding moments. Trying out Cebu's fine dining restaurants, unmindful of the bill until it lands on our table and all blurts out with a knowing laugh seeing it. Recent months has been a feast!

    If you're looking for some fine dining restaurants in Cebu, here are your options:

    Olio Steak and Seafood Restaurant
    Crossroads, Banilad
    Contact number: 2323589, 2321991, 2382931

    Olio is on Philippine Tattler's Philippines' best restaurants list. They serve a good selection of oysters, scallops, steak, lobster, wine... On their anniversary, we endulged ourselves on eat all you can USDA Nebraskan Prime Rib Eye for P899++ (about P1,000 net). While one of us consumed 1.4 kgs., I consumed about 500 grams of it; although I wanted more, my heart is screaming enough. :))

    Corner TableThe Gallery, Juan Luna Street, Mabolo, Cebu City

    Corner Table is from the same proprietors of Ginza (Japanese Restaurant) and Academy for International Culinary Arts or A.I.C.A.. Corner Table serves spanish cuisine: tapas and paella. The menu is quite limited. I personally liked their Gambas al Ajillo, Pan con Tomate y Aceite, Arroz Tinto (paella cooked in beef stock topped with sliced steak) and a spanish meal won't be complete without some good Sangria.

    Panorama Heights, Nivel Hills, Gorordo Ave
    Cebu City 6000
    032 2327375

    Anzani serves new mediterranean cuisine. Anzani has great ambience over looking a mountain; indoors it's as if you're in a log cabin somewhere in Europe or Canada. With online coupon craze, we got a deal at for a four course meal.for bout P800. The verdict: other than its ambience, there's nothing much to rave about this place.

    Crossroads, Banilad, Cebu City
    Telephone number: 2389552, 2389618

    Maya is from the same proprietor of Abaca, a boutique hotel known for its high-end tasty Italian food in Mactan. Maya has a sophisticated yet casual ambiance for dining and has a tequila lounge on the second floor. It's mexican food is great. I personally liked the beef and fajitas and nachos with salsa, their version of cripy lechon kawali is a hit to many. The drinks are quite pricey, so it's a place to see and be seen for 30's and up young urban professionals and entrepreneurs, ergo - yuppies. They have a wide selection of good quality and rare find Tequila like the blue agave. If you're looking for some cheap tequila like Jose Cuervo, they don't serve it here. My peers liked the flaming ferrari, it's a 3 colored mixed drink set on fire while sipping it in one shot. I had the Patron tequila - it was smoooooth! and I especially like their Bacardi Mojitos. Alas, I'm starting to like something to drink and that's totally unbelievable! It was here when I first experienced how the world can spin for a second. Seems like my palate is for pricey stuff! haha

    One can't get drunk here without emptying your pocket, the price of a good shot at Maya is at least P300. Another place to see and be seen in Cebu is in Vudu (for youngsters) and Formo (for yuppies)

    Patron tequila by Maya (photo by Maya)
    So are you ready to party and savor life in Cebu? I just did and loving it! :D

    These photos aren't mine, post like this give me one good reason why I should get a new point and shoot.

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    Discovering Camarines Sur: Camsur Watersports Complex (CWC)

    After our successful encounter with the whale sharks in Donsol, we were off to discover Camsur Watersports Complex (CWC) in Pili, Camarines Sur.

    It was an hour land trip from Donsol, Sorsogon to FilCab/GT Express Daraga Terminal.

    In Daraga Terminal, several vans are waiting in line for hire. At P140 per head, we found our way to Pili, Camarines Sur two hours later on a Daraga - Naga van for hire. That's a lot of savings compared to hiring a private van at P3000. We got off on the highway, crossed the street and rode a tricycle leading to the Eco Village inside the complex of the Capitol. At P7.50 each, five of us and a stranger were forced to cramp inside this tricycle with our bags and luggage on top since the driver refused to have it all to ourselves.

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Calamian Islands, Northern Palawan Travel Guide: Club Paradise, Maricaban Bay, Calauit, Coron, Busuanga

    Just like any tourist, I was quite confused with the sights to see in Palawan. I had to see the map before I understood it's geography. Palawan is a huge archipelago, it may take a month to visit the whole island. Puerto Princessa (PP) is at it's center, it is the jump off point for Honda Bay Island Hopping and 7 wonders of the world nominee Underground River Tour. From PP, El Nido is six hours away by land + short boat transfers while Coron is ten hours away by big passenger vessel and Tubbataha Marine Park is twelve hours by boat.

    These three main tourist destinations of Palawan can now be reached by plane. PP and Coron (via Busuanga) via flagship airline PAL, or Cebu Pacific, Zest Airways & Seair. While El Nido can be reached by Seair or charter flights on Island Transvoyager. Since these are small aircraft, free luggage allowance is limited to 10 to 15 kilograms. Click link for more info on flying to Busuanga.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Guide to Whaleshark Interaction at Donsol, Sorsogon

    Read my personal butanding interaction experience here.

    I have compiled this extensive guide for Whale Shark Interaction in Donsol Sorsogon, probably the most extensive you can find on the net.


    The name "whale shark" or locally called "butanding" comes from the fish physiology that is, a shark as huge as a whale that shares the same filter feeder eating mode. As filter feeder, these gentle giants feed on planktons, algae, and small nektonic life.

    Donsol Bay has the largest concentration of whale shark in the world.

    The interaction site can be reached by outrigger boat in 10 minutes from the shores of Dancalan Beach Area (Baranggay),
    Town of Donsol, Province of Sorsogon, Region of Bicol, Southern Luzon, Philippines.


    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Northern Vietnam: Hanoi

    After a chaotic experience with the locals, we arrived Hanoi with much angst.  We shall never get fooled by any locals was our game.  Upon arrival at Hanoi airport, we were met by soliciting taxi drivers for a fixed taxi fare.  We walked past them and found a seemingly nice taxi driver who was willing to take us to the city on a meter.  We took the risk and thought, we cannot forgive ourselves if we get into a trap again.  Luckily, there are a few good men.  Shortly, we found our hotel for the night, Indochina Queen booked through agoda.  The receptionist was a good looking tall fair Vietnamese guy.  That's a rare find in Vietnam!  He came out and helped out with our bags and made sure we had no issues with the taxi driver.  He was very accommodating and I was particularly fond of him saying "certainly" in British accent each time we asked for something.

    Just like in Ho Chi Minh, the facade of the hotel was narrow.  The room was spacious and well equipped.  Arriving close to midnight, we had to hurry and pack an overnight bag for our much awaited trip to Halong Bay.  The hotel gladly stored our luggage overnight while we were out in Halong Bay at no extra fee.

    After settling in, from an overnight trip at Halong Bay with Indochina Sails, we went to see the water puppet show at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre at 8pm for 40,000 dong.  The theater was a few blocks away from the hotel and the receptionist advised us just to walk to get there.  The show wasn't a must see, but knowing that it was brought around the world gave us a reason to see it for ourselves.

    the puppeteer came out for the finale

    We walked around Hoan Kiem Lake with numerous dating couples and locals dancing in the night and finally found Fanny's Ice Cream Parlos.  The presentation was definitely fantastic, the taste was so so.
    Fanny's Ice Cream Parlor
    I love the weather in Hanoi.  Day 2 was allotted for a day tour around Hanoi's historic spot - Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and it's adjacent presidential palace and museum.
    Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

    Ho Chi Minh's modest house
    We also visited the temple of literature.  It was obviously, of Confucian influence with chinese characters all over.  The Vietnamese Museum of History was not for me, we killed time lounging at the museum, since there was not much people here, it was definitely cozy for some cheezy conversation.  The cafe next door also was a great place to hangout with, serving some good opera cake.
    Temple of Literature

    the Vietnamese Museum of History
    Since we've practically covered the important sites in Hanoi for a short time, we went back to the area of Hoan Kiem Lake.  Checked out those that I normally find in travel blogs of Hanoi and took a shot of Huc Bridge, vietnamese ladies holding hands in costume and some old vietnamese locals playing chinese chess.  Ah, these shots completes my stay in Vietnam. :D
    numerous dating couple at Hoan Kiem Lake

    Vietnamese Ladies in costume

    old Vietnamese playing chinese chess at Ngo Soc Temple grounds

    the Huc Bridge leading to Ngo Soc Temple

    rickshaw ride around the old quarter

    Confessions of a Shopaholic Two

    With a stressful life these days, retail therapy has never been this therapeutic and pampering thyself have been guiltless.
    • I seemed to not leave Promod without a shopping bag in tow;
    • I now have three pairs of fitflops;
    • I just bought a long champ bag and ate my words when I said, I'll never get one;
    • I bought cosmetics, I know I will rarely use.;
    • I just got a new i5 laptop, and this one was for free;
    • fine dining at Cebu's finest!  Olio's a thousand eat all you can beef and Anzani's 800+ four course meal
    • everyday, I find some good reason to buy new toys... an iphone and an ipad for work and light weight point and shoot camera for daily use.
    • everyday, my mind wanders around the world...Misibis Bay in June, Davao in October, India in December, London in February, South Africa in April
    Somebody stop me please... :))

    PAL Grants Cancellation of Redeemed Miles for Japan

    I was able to redeem free round trip ticket to Tokyo, Japan on Philippines Airlines (PAL) with Mabuhay Miles.  But after the nuclear crisis, my plans foiled.  When I called PAL's hotline, it was not possible to reroute the flight.  I was only given two options:
    1. Rebook to a later date, within one year from ticket issuance date.

      The first  rebooking is free of charge. Each subsequent rebooking will be subject to a rebooking fee of USD30.00 for International award ticket or PHP600.00 (Exclusive of  VAT)  for Domestic award ticket.

    2. Extend ticket for another 6 months for a fee ($25 if i remembered it right).
    We had our ticket rebooked to a much later date without having it revalidated so I can still change the date without a fee.  Not until I was told by a friend that he was able to have his credited back.  And so I wrote to and as follows:

    "Locator #_____
    Passenger Name: _______
    Mabuhay Miles # 00______

    Hi, we have redeemed tickets to Tokyo scheduled last March,  because of the unfortunate event of the tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan, we were constrained to cancel our trip.  At that time, we requested for rerouting but was declined.

    We are appealing for your kind consideration to credit back the miles used and refund the taxes paid since the resolution of the crisis remains uncertain.

    Hoping for your kind consideration and hope to hear positive response from you."
    A follow-up note and a month passed and I have not received a reply but this:
     "Please be advised that your concern is currently being reviewed by our Awards Group. Your patience and understanding in awaiting for further communication from us regarding this matter will certainly be appreciated... Very truly yours, Eileen Jover-Galindez, Manager - Product Loyalty Marketing, Operations"
    I was constrained to contact some people we know at PAL's office and was advised to email Romme Belles of Mabuhay Miles Service Center at

    In two days, I received a response stating:
    Dear Freeze,
    "We have already cancelled and credited back the 20,000 miles to your account. You may now proceed to any of our Philippine Airlines ticket office and apply the refund of the taxes (please bring your tickets). Thank you. Romme Belles, Mabuhay Miles Service Center"
    What a joy this news bring!  I won't be tied down going back to Japan soon while Japan's nuclear crisis remains an issue.  Now I can enjoy a different beat in South Africa and visit the queen in London courtesy of HSBC.

    Note:  Miles redemption that are canceled are not necessarily credited back to today's date.  The original redemption is canceled, any miles expired or expiring is extended upto the next cut-off.