Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Zamboanga's Barter

In the 70’s, Zamboanga is known of its barter or trading activities with its neighboring countries, Malaysia and Indonesia. Initiated by the late President Ferdinand Marcos, items from Malaysia and Indonesia come to the Philippines through the barter system without tax. Products like tea, coffee, meatloaf and malongs are at cheap prices at Zamboanga’s barter.

Now, the barter system no longer exists but what remains is an area where Moslems sell products like malong, hair turban, jewelry, bags, and pasalubongs like T-shirts, keychain and and ref magnets for tourists. There are still products from Malaysia like chocolates, coffee and tea at low prices although no products from the Philippines are sold in Malaysia just like in the barter system.

Sweet Tooth Paradise at Myrna’s Bake House

On our way to finding the Barter, we came across Myrna’s Bake House.
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Somewhat a small diner in the middle of the city center, we were attracted by a counter full of treats that are so splendid to the eyes. We were somewhat hungry from all the walking so we decided to try Myrna’s.

Catholic Faith in Zamboanga

One of the modern churches in Zamboanga is the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. From the outside, minus the crucifix, you would think of it as a hotel. The form of the church is actually shaped like a crucifix.
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We entered the church by the ground floor and we were quite surprise of how small it was. We thought of it as a chapel.

Pasonanca Park

I have read of the Pasonanca Park in history books. I am quite thrilled to finally step foot in a place I only get to know in my classes.

After our brunch at Mano Mano, we took a jeepney to Pasonanca Park. Since the park in itself is vast, our driver dropped us at the Treehouse, Zamboanga’s famous landmark.
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mano Mano na Greenfield

After getting a two-hour sleep at the hotel, Ellainne and I decided to take our brunch at the Mano Mano na Greenfield. For Php 60, we had a tricycle bring us to the restaurant in Sta. Maria Village. Mano Mano means using nothing but the hands.
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Lantaka Hotel by the Sea

With the recommendation of Ellainne’s boss and also my previous professor, Sis Duday, we headed to Lantaka Hotel. We were welcomed by their enormous lobby and very helpful receptionists. With no reservations, we were lucky to have a seaside view room in the 3rd phase of their hotel.
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Our Almost forgotten Zamboanga Trip

Last year, when Air Philippines had a fare sale, a good friend, Chris booked us (her, me and Ellainne) tickets to Zamboanga. With no reason and no research, we all agreed to a plan of going to Western Mindanao. It was so far away that somebody snickered and sarcastically told me to go to Tawi-tawi the next. I have such a happy travelling feet that I am not bothered of the unkown places.

Ten months after, we fast track to the present. With all the crazy stuff getting the three of us busy, we haven’t remembered let alone prepare for the unknown. Good thing it was payday just before our trip, I have enough cash for the trip. After all the convincing one another to push through with hitting Mindanao with Chris having a no show, it was me and Ellainne at the NAIA Terminal 3 at 2:30AM.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Debt Capacity UP

I got a surprise from BPI today.  My credit limit is now increased 30++% more.  This is my second increase in the 3 years that I have my BPI Credit Card.  Being a good payer and with no outstanding balance since I acquired my credit card, I am constantly rewarded with an increase. 

But more purchasing power means a bigger hole of debt if and if I don't have the discipline with my purchases. But Oohh! I could just imagine the gadgets and the numerous tickets I could buy with my new credit limit now... hehehe!!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Brother, an OFW

Tonight, I have come home to a once again empty house.  My family was here for the weekend.  Manong will be going to Al Khobar in Dammam in Saudi Arabia to work so Graze, Saph and Mom are here to send him off. Finally, he is fulfilling his dream as a Mechanical Engineer.

I sure do miss him.  With even just a few hours ago, I do miss him. I just hope and pray that he does not get sick while he is there and that he will be guided and even if he could not practice our religion the Holy Spirit will guide him.

Good luck bro!  I'll see you next year!

Mexican Dinner at Jalapeño Cantina Mexicana

After a text message from Kat on going to Robinsons Galleria Mallwide sale, I met up with her at Robinsons in time she is done with her shopping spree. Kat planned to go to Jalapeno Cantina Mexicana, so we drove from Galleria to Ortigas Home depot to experience a Filipinize Mexican dinner.

It was not our first time at Jalapeno. Our initial visit captured us and made us come back for good Mexican food. Kat obtained vouchers from Cashcash Pinoy for Php 500 worth of food for only 250Php.

Easily spotted due to its hanging sign board, Jalapeno Cantina Mexicana is a small Mexican diner serving authentic Mexican food and drinks. The dark wooden tables and chairs, the yellow-orange painted walls, the cellar full of liquor gives a warm but informal ambiance. Outside seating at the balcony and the exteriors of the restaurant invites customers for a true Mexican experience.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Playwrights Theater brings back Floy Quintos' Fake

From its highly acclaimed run during the summer month of May, Fake, a production by UP Playwrights' Theater comes back to UP for a 5-day run. Written by Floy Quintos and directed by Tony Mabesa, Fake questions our beliefs on what poses to be true when only our faith holds it to be true.  It questioned our belief of the existence of the supernatural beings.  Is our God truely existing?  Are the prophets do really communicate with God and the Blessed Virgin?  How do we know what the people say as real, what we see in TV or hear from the radio as true? How many people need to believe it to be true for something to be real?  How many proofs has to be presented for it be declared true?  What is the basis of real for it to real and a fact for it to be fact? How do we know when to believe?

fake ticket

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Return to Chocolate Kiss Cafe

Kat and I, like most alumni of UP Diliman, missed eating at Chocolate Kiss, or sometimes called CKiss. It has and always been our favorite restaurant, serving our comfort food and favorite blueberry cheesecakes. There has been numerous events and meetings our group of friends held and it has always been Ckiss.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bacolod's Masskara Festival Schedule

October is Bacolod's festive month.  In a few weeks, the streets of my hometown will be filled with locals and tourists alike as we party for the Masskara Festival.

masskara
Photo by Daryl Jimenea from www.themasskarafestival.com

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Palawan City Tour

For our last day at Puerto PRincesa, we had our version of the City Tour. Our flight back to Manila is at 2PM so we have ample time to have the tour and would be ready at the airport for our check-in.

We requested Kuya Jomat to pick us up at House of Rose at exactly 7AM. We loaded our bags in the van as we are heading to the airport right after the tour.

Our first stop was the Butterfly Farm. The Butterfly Farm, located in Sta. Monica, houses a variety of butterflies in their natural habitat.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

House of Rose

For our third night, we transferred at House of Rose. I have made reservations in Manila when I seem not to get a booking, amidst of the non peak season, Puerto Princesa is full.

House of Rose is a house owned by Rose and Andy. Somewhat distant from the highway, it is located in a middle class subdivision. They have built rooms at the perimeter of their lot and opened their home to tourists.

Bona's Chao Long

There are a lot of Vietnamese restaurant or cheap diner in Puerto Princesa. On the way back from our Underground River Tour, Kuya Jomat explained that not a long time ago, Vietnamese nationals reside in Palawan, bringing with them their cooking and specialty food.

Recommended by Kuya Jomat is Bona’s Chao Long. He considers this as the best tasting chao long. Chao long is a Vietnamese cuisine which is a beef stew with Pho noodles in a sweet tomato soup.
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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ugong Cave Rocks!

On the way back from Sabang (Undergound River), Kuya Jomat showed us the Ugong Cave site at Brgy Tagabinet.  We were reluctant at first.   Spelunking? Rocks?  Limestone?  Outdoorsy as I am, I don't frequent caves.  Let alone traverse a course of rocks. Kuya Jomat have a great deal of convincing power that amidst my concern for "work" on a vacation that I should be relaxing, I wonder how my mother, at 55, would achieve climbing in Ugong Rock.  To further convince us, a tourguide from Ugong gave us a background of Ugong Rock.
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Monday, August 8, 2011

DIY Underground River Tour

Spelunking and rock formations await tourists through the Underground River Tour.   The Underground River is nominated to be one of the 7 wonders of the world.  These has been our motivation to wake up very early.  

Our schedule was at 9:30AM and we are required to be at Sabang  an hour early for registration and trigger boat ride from Sabang to the Underground River.  After a sumptuous breakfast at Casa Fuerte, we loaded the van of Kuya Jomat and left the hotel at exactly 7:00am.  We have rented his van for Php 3000.

Bankrupt

I'm digging myself a big hole of bankruptcy.  Worse, its a hole of sinking mud.  Quick sand! If there's a rope that I could cling to, to keep me hanging then I am hopeful.  But for now, I am in deep shit.

My bank account is reaching zero.  And I have to live by with less than a thousand pesos until the next pay day.  I have bills and debts to pay.  And just this Saturday, I broke the LCD of my brother's laptop causing me Php 6500 for repair and replacement. I haven't told him yet and I'm not planning to as I am also the last person who held his iTouch until it went into slumber.  I'm really a wooz when it comes to gadgets...

So now instead of allocating money for my upcoming travel, I have to tighten my belt more to cover for more bills and payments.  =(  The economy is not doing well like I do.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

DIY Honda Bay Tour: The Island Hopping Adventure

Honda Bay is a group of islets with fine white to cream sand beaches. From the city, you have to travel 30 minutes to get to the wharf where awaiting motored trigger boats waits to bring you to the small islands. It has been a popular tourist destination for swimming and snorkeling. Its clear water could definitely give you a good view of the world underwater.


We were up very early for our Honda Bay Tour. I have arranged with Kuya Manny for a van and he has sent Kuya Leo to drive us to the Honda Bay wharf. At exactly 7AM, Kuya Leo was at Casa Fuerte, ready to help us out with our Honda Bay Tour.



We wanted to have lunch at the island, we requested Kuya Leo that we drop by the market for fresh fish and slices of pork. Because we don’t have an arranged lunch at the island, we also bought rice, ingredients for marinate, bottles of softdrinks and water, and charcoal for grilling.


We also dropped by at the Snorkeling gear rental store. And from there, you would know how popular this tour is because you will find it jampacked. We were in queue for about 30 minutes just to get 5 snorkel gear. Each gear is rented out for Php 150. They also sell bread for feeding the fish for Php 15 a pack. Other items for rent are fins, snorkeling shoes, waterproof camera case, and underwater camera. You need to register the name of your driver to have somebody accountable of the things your group has rented out.

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We proceeded to the wharf and I followed Kuya Leo’s instruction and immediate fell in line to pay for the fees of the banca and the Terminal Fee. The banca is worth Php 1300, good for a day’s island hopping and could accommodate 6 people while the terminal fee is Php 3 per person. After finding our assigned banca, I talked it out with the the 2 guys manning the boat that we need our food to be cooked which is not a problem for them.


Our first stop was the Pambato Coral Reef. Bamboo bridges are constructed near the reef. An information booth was also constructed on stilts. There is a fee of Php 50 when you snorkel and see the coral reef. The water was not so clear when we were there because of the rains the day before. Our boatmen said we won’t see any fish so we decided not get off.

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Next stop was Starfish Island. It was private owned and Php 50 entrance is collected to access the island.
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There are grass skirts and flower head dresses hanging by a frame and we immediately borrowed one for a photo opportunity giving us the chance of being an Hawaiian for a day.
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We had a grand time playing perspective photography courtesy of our boatmen.
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The sand was creamy white and the water is pristine clear. What is good of having the tour on our own is we could manage our time, leave whenever we want. We spent a little more time at the Starfish Island for more photos.


Our next stop was the Snake Island. I think it is the most beautiful of the islands. Its beach stretches more than 2 kilometers long all creamy white. According to our boatmen, the aerial view of the Snake Island is similar to the tail of the snake, thus its name.


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While we snorkeled and fed the fishes, one of our boat men grilled the pork and fish and cooked our rice. Staying at the island is free but we paid for cooking fee of Php 100 and maintenance fee for our huts for Php 50.
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We had a grand time with the fishes. Our boatman, with his buoy, assisted us weak swimmers in the deep area of the sea where more fishes thrive. We were amazed at how healthy the beaches are as we fill our eyes with color and beauty of the fishes.


When our food was ready, we went back to our little cottage and had a feast over grilled tuna and pork chops. Coconut is available for Php 30 if you want a fresh drink.
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After lunch, we went back to the beach for another round of dipping and picture taking this time around, the jump shots!


Our third stop and the final one is the Pandan Island. Pandan Trees are abundant in the island the reason why it is named such. There are more amenities at the Pandan Island. Banana boat, jet ski, and kayaking boats are up for rent. 
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Cottages and restrooms are available. There are also shower areas for you to rinse off the salt. There was also an area where they do henna tattoo and massages.


My family stayed at the beach, contented with just playing in the sand like little kids. More photos are taken to bring home.


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It was about 3PM when we decided to leave the island and return to the wharf.


Other islands of Honda Bay are Cowrie Island, Luli (lulubog, lilitaw) Island, Bat Island, Señorita Island and Meara Marina. You could also do a 20-30 minute visit to Dos Palmas for 500Php.


Cut off time to leave the wharf is 2:30PM. There is no time limit as to when you need to get back as long as there is no strong winds, there is still light of day and the weather is fine. Package tours for Honda Bay are priced at Php 1100 per person inclusive of land and water transportation, entrances and food. Rent for snorkeling gear is at own expense.


-o0o-
Honda Bay
Barangay Sta. Lourdes Tagbanua
Puerto Princesa, Palawan


Van Rentals:
Manny Lucena – Globe: +63 917 612 3947
Smart: +63 912 872 1294
Landline
Puerto Princesa: +63 48 723 3615
Manila:+63 2 998 6603,
Email emmanuellucena@yahoo.com
Leo Otad - +63 905 973 4905

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dinner at Kinabuchs

On the way back from Iwahig, Kuya Jomat suggested that we eat at Kinabuch. It was past 8 o’clock and our tummies are looking forward to good food.

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Kinabuch is named such because it was named after its owner Butch. So it’s a one word of kina Butch, or Butch’s place. It is one of the busiest restaurant in the city of Puerto Princesa, jampacked unless you got lucky, because of its party aura, drinking-till-you-drop joint. Besides the drink, they serve Filipino food with a very reasonable price with a very generous serving. Most of its food are good for 2-3 people.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

DIY Iwahig Firefly Tour

The nicest thing about Palawan is the uniqueness of its tour. Add to that the information and education one brings out of their tours. I have been an environment warrior so when I read about the Iwahig Firefly Tour, I was excited to try it out with my family.

The Iwahig Firefly Tour is managed by a cooperative of youth whose family member is a prisoner of the Iwahig Prison. Most of them are trained volunteers, knowledgeable about the river ecosystem, fireflies and mangroves as well as the constellations. They only not make a profit for their community, but they also protect their environment.



The Iwahig Firefly Tour is not as popular as the other tours like the Underground River, City Tour and the Honda Bay Tour. But I think it is one tour one should not miss when in Puerto Princesa.

Just before dinner we were picked up by Kuya Jomat, a tourguide and driver we met at the Underground River Booking Office, at our Bed and Breakfast, Casa Fuerte.

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We paid Kuya Jomat Php 1500 for van rental which took us to Iwahig, 45 minutes away from the city hub. On the way to Iwahig, Kuya Jomat described the Iwahig Penal system where low security prisoners could roam outside bars, look after rice fields, and makes handicrafts for sale to tourists visiting the Iwahig Prison (it was included in the City Tour before but because of a recent riot, Tourism Department decided to delete it in the itinerary for the tourists’ safety).

We arrive at Iwahig river and was greeted by a small information booth where you pay Php 600 for banca. Good thing, Kuya Jomat made reservations already at their office, we were accommodated right away.

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There are also small huts good for picnics while waiting for your turn in the river cruise.  We were early so we didn't have to wait that much.

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We rented 2 paddle boats which accommodates 4 people including the tour guide. So it was mom, me and my brother, Rex in one boat while Mel and Miming in another boat.

We were provided with lifevest for safety purposes and Salakot which is optional. I required my family to use the salakot for photo ops. =)

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Iwahig River is eerie quiet. You could hear the crickets sing while your tourguide will tell you about the fireflies.  While cruising the river, my mother was very concerned of a possible crocodile living in the area.  There are no crocs yet it is a protected area because of the mangroves that are abundant in the Iwahig River.  And these mangroves serve as dwelling places of the fireflies.  There are 2 species of fireflies at the Iwahig River.  That is only about 0.1% of the total species of fireflies in the world.  Fireflies are sensitive to pollution so having a firefly as abundant in the Iwahig River only tells that the river ecosystem is not polluted and alive.

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My photography prowess is at a challenge while doing this tour.  As flash photography is not allowed during the tour and my camera not clicking at low light, what is left to me are memories of how facinating the experience was.

Imagine hundreds or even thousand of fireflies luminate a mangrove tree like a christmas tree in December. There was a point when the boatman flash a infrared light to a mangrove and  boom! all of the fireflies light up all together.  Our guide explained that it is actually their defense mechanism.  While I argue that they actually identify themselves to a predator, he said that it is power by numbers that protects fireflies.

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Fireflies also emit light to attract for mating.  You could identify males from females by the intensity of light.  Males are brighter than females.  Iwahig River is the red light district of Puerto Princesa as glowing insects are waiting to be picked up by an interested glowing parter for a night of companionship.

But kidding aside, this tour should really be on top of your list.  Do yourself a favor.  If it is not included in your package, you can request with your agency for one.  The tour costs Php 1500 per person.  If you are in a big group, hire a van at Php 1500 and go straight to Iwahig, rent a banca for Php 600 (good for 3 pax) and you'll have a grand time with the glowing insects

-o0o-
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Iwahig Firefly Watching Tour
Iwahig River
Puerto Princesa
For bookings kindly contact Nelia David: 09106001686

Van Rentals:
Jomat - 09185725598

Pasalubong Haven: Tiangge Tiangge

My mom has been raving about how cheap deep sea pearls are at Palawan. Her officemate who have gone to Palawan have talked about it nonstop, shopping for pearls became my mom’s objective. So after a sumptuous meal at Balinsasayaw, we decided to look for Tiange Tiange where the souvenirs and pasalubong are located.

The Tiangge Tiangge is a walking distance from Balinsasayaw so we decided to take a stroll.

Tiangge Tiangge houses all pasalubong ranging from t-shirts and clothes, handicrafts, food, jewelry, bags, and even stuff toys.  Half of it is housed in an airconditioned area while some stalls are located in the non-aircon.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lunch at Balinsasayaw Chicken Grill and Restaurant

I have heard a lot of raves on how food is really good in Palawan.  With the fresh catch everyday, it is no wonder that their seafood specialties are really cheap. No more additional travel expenses to get it to the pan.  And with the rural atmosphere the city is exuding you can't help but relax while eating your apetite's delight.

As recommended by the lady employee at the Underground Booking office, my family decided to take lunch at the Balinsasayaw Chicken Grill and Restaurant. 
balinsasayaw

Obtaining an Underground River Permit

At the airport, I was able to talk to Sir Manny Lucena who manage van rental services and gave him our plan. I got the information on the need of a permit to be able to do the Underground River Tour. Because Mel and Miming will arrive 7 hours after we do, we have ample time to get a permit, do a little shopping and tour the city.


So after settling down at Casa Fuerte, we got a tricycle to the Underground River booking office.

booking office

DIY Palawan vs. Palawan Tours Packages

There are 3 famous tours in Palawan:  Honda Bay Tour, Underground River Tour, City Tour.  If you would avail of packages the rates are as follows:
Honday Bay Tour - 1100/pax
Underground River Tour - 1500/pax
City Tour - 600/pax

What is good about Palawan is the standard rates of the tour packages.  Regardless you got your package from a hotel or a travel agency, the prices are the same.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tattoo Byebye

One of my Silab sis, Karla informed of her interest on taking on my Tattoo mobile internet subscription.  I have been looking a taker for a while now so I was really glad when she texted me last week.  I think I need to give up my tattoo because I have net connection in the office likewise there is wifi.  So I just need to spend some time at the office after work to do my internet gaming (Restaurant City) and blogging.  =)

But really, it all boils down to expenses.  Since I am living alone, I shoulder all my expenses by myself.  And that is really very hard on me.  So I'm cutting my internet expense until I go crazy again with nothing to do in the house.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Casa Fuerte, Abode in the 'City in the Forest'

Prologue:2 Days Before th Escape to Palawan

I have been preparing for our Puerto Princesa Trip since May, that is 2 months before our trip. That's how excited I am of going to Palawan.  It is a dream coming true for me and my family.

I have read all about Palawan and researched on how to avoid the expensive packages yet still have the convenient and worry free vacation. I have prepared a cost comparison excel price of our expenses.  That's how a girl scout I am. I have searched on cheap accomodations and have weighed all the pros and cons.  But while I'm still procastinating on making a call and reserve rooms, hoping to bump into a better deal, I found myself with no reservation 2 days shy of our schedule departure.  What happened to the Girl Scout?! Yikes!

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