Category Archives: Philippines

Stilts

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Stilts

May 23, 2012

Stilts Calatagan Beach Resort

Balayan Bay

Santa Ana, Calatagan

Batangas

~

The sudden rocking of the van woke me up.

I rise from my not so pleasant position from the chair.

“Where are we?” I asked myself.

I looked over to Cholo and he is looking out the window, the sudden movement must have woke him up too. By now Miss Des is giving instructions to Noriel, the driver, on what to say when the security personnel questions our very early arrival.

I turned on the illuminator of my watch. It is now 1:45 am. We have been traveling for two hours.

As I peered into the darkness, I could see that we are going through a dirt road lined with trees.

“We must be near already” I told myself.

A few minutes later, the three of us are being ushered to our rooms. We walked down a cement path and down a flight of stairs.

As soon as my eyes adjusted to the dim light, I saw before me; cottages on stilts across the water.

“Wow!” we all exclaimed.

We were now walking on wooden planks that leads to our cottage. I peered over the railing and see that the water is quite high. It must be high tide.

The sea breeze continues to caress my skin as I  walked along, making me more sleepy in each step.

I then hear our usher, “Once again welcome to Stilts. This is your cottage, Cebu. Please sleep well and enjoy your stay.”

I’m home.

~

The alarm of my phone woke me up. It was now 5:45 Am.

I turned over and grabbed it from the night stand and shut it off. I could hear the swallows darting underneath the cottage and the waves crashing upon themselves.

I shifted on the bed and looked at the white curtains flying in the air.

It was now breaking dawn.

I slowly stood up from the bed and made my way to the toilet to pee. As soon as I parted the curtains, this is what I saw.

Miss Des had some water boiling when I made my way to the kitchen. I decided to have a cup of coffee.

With my steaming cup, I walked outside and sat on the terrace. Enjoying the view while the sun starts to illuminate the world.

Too bad I had work today, it would have been lovely to just jump straight into the water and laze around all day .

I gulped down the remaining contents of my cup. It was now a little past 6 am.

I rushed to shower for I need to be on location by 7am.

~

click here to be brought the official STILTS website

Elizalde Beach, Burot Calatagan

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Elizalde Beach, Burot Calatagan

May 23, 2012

Elizade Beach

Barangay Burot

Calatagan, Batangas Philippines

~

It is now almost 7 am.

The van is winding through a dirt road surrounded by lush mangroves.

I hold my makeup kit in place preventing it from toppling over.

I could see fishermen starting their day. They haul their fishnets unto their backs while their dogs walk beside them.

Father along the dirt road, I see other fishermen selling their catch of the day.

In a second or so, I see some umbrellas and tents.

We have arrived on location.

~

I am grateful that sometimes my job brings me to places I don’t know about.

A places like this.

We were shooting at Elizadle Beach (also called Burot Beach) which is located, approximately 2 hours and a half from Manila. Okay, 3 to 4 hours on a bad day. It is a private beach located in Barangay Burot, Calatagan, Batangas. Elizalde beach has been rented throughout the years for shooting purposes.

I don’t really know if this beach is open to public*. I have heard that a big real estate company bought the land and will be developing it soon. It became private property and there are security personnel at the gates leading up to the beach. The production house had to ask permission to shoot there.

Elizalde beach is very beautiful and underdeveloped (which I liked!). There are no cottages, there are no lights**. All you do is swim in the warm waters of the sea, lay on the sand and watch the ships go sailing by. The beach is small, maybe +/- a kilometer wide with rock out crops at both ends. It is a fairly easy walk especially when you want to find a spot along the sands to watch the sunset.

I felt a little spoiled coming here for a shoot. There’s catering, there’s a portalet, and there’s a generator for electricity. The only down side was that I wasn’t able to fully enjoy the beach because I had to work. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. I am thankful for the opportunity to work and to experience places like Elizalde beach.

I LOVE my job!

*Just as I was to publish this blog I found out that Elizalde Beach is still open to public. It costs Php 140 pesos per person to enter.

** It is best to bring your own food when going to Elizalde beach. If you get hungry, there is a small sari-sari store a few meters from the beach front.

for a map to Elizalde Beach click here.

Quaint Culion

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Quaint Culion

April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday

Mangenguey Island

Northern Clamianes Islands, Palawan

~

We were getting ready to ride on the bangka (outrigger boat), when Helena comes over.

“Here’s some lunch for you guys!” she says as she hands over a package wrapped in cloth; Japanese style.

After giving her our thanks, she waves her magnificent hands in the air and says “You’re welcome. Now enjoy your side trip to Culion.”

We hop on the boat as she gives last-minute instructions to her boat men.

I quietly on one side on the boat while Cholo sits opposite of me.

My head has been heavy and my nose has been congested since we arrived in the island two days prior.

“Mind over matter.” I told myself.

My silence was broken when I heard the engine come to life. I look over to Cholo.

“Happy Birthday and Happy Easter!” he said gleefully.

I smiled to him as the banca started to ride the waves.

~

If my memory serves me right, It would take you a little over an hour to get to Culion from Mangenguey. I’m not exactly sure now, because that was 3 years ago. But what I do remember is how beautiful it was on route.

You won’t notice the passing of time because all you do is look around you. Taking in all the beauty that nature has to offer.

In front of you the entire time is the blue sky and the pristine aquamarine dotted with green islands all over. I will never forget the image of coral reefs so clear through the blue-green water as I looked over the edge of the boat.

One of the men stands at the bow of the bangka (see left photo). They stand and watch the water because some parts are shallower. They don’t want to risk the bangka hitting bottom. They do this every so often when we are passing between islands as a safety measure.

The bangka docks in its designated area in the port of Culion and the men tells us to enjoy walking around. The municipality is quite small, we won’t get lost.

As we walk around we are greeted by silence. After all, it was Easter Sunday.

The disco pub was closed.

The school was closed.

And so was the bakery.

We saw a church on top of the hill and we decided to make for it.

The Immaculate Conception Church was built by the Jesuits during the Spanish Colonial period of the 1880’s. When you enter the church you see a statue of the Blessed Virgin on top of the main entrance.

When you enter , you will see from the nave that the colors that adorn the church as red and gold. It’s quite beautiful in its simplicity.

The apse depicts the last supper of Jesus Christ and His Apostles (see right).

I’m not sure if the church was built on top of  the old fort or if the church was built beside it, because as soon as you go around the church and walk up a flight of stairs you will find yourself atop an old tower at the highest point of the hill.

You can see the sea far and wide. Though there is no beach, the water is so clear.

Cholo and I.

Take note of the canon to my left.

~

One very interesting fact we discovered about  Culion is that it used to be a Leper Colony during the American Commonwealth.

The details of how Culion became the world’s largest leper colony at that time (16,000 cases at its height!) is showcased by the Culion Museum which is run by Loyola College of Culion. Visiting this museum was very enlightening because this specific part of Filipino history was unknown to me until that day. Click here to know more about the Culion Museum.

You don’t have to worry when you are going about Culion because there are no lepers around. The last single remaining case in the island got cured in 1998.

~

It was a little bit past noon and we had to get back to the banca. We can’t stay for long because we had to consider the tides. It will be too difficult to travel if we get caught during low tide.

We traced back our steps to the port, bought some ice cream (Nestle Twin Popsies to be exact) from the ice cream man to beat the heat. We bought some for the boys too. I’m sure they’d want some.

Then men were now maneuvering the banca with ice cream at hand.

After 30 minutes of zooming past the water, the brought us to a small island with mangroves all over.

We opened our lunch served in bento boxes and enjoyed our delicious lunch as the waves gently rocked the boat

~

Culion is a nice day trip when you are vacationing among one of the islands

Culion is not served by any major forms of transportation. It’s main connection is to ride an outrigger boat from the port of Coron in Busuanga.

Busuanga is accessible via sea and air.

AirPhil Express, Cebu Pacific, SEAir and Zest Air flies from manila. Click on names to be rerouted to their website.

2GO Travel (originally named SuperFerry) also goes to Busuanga from Manila on route to Puerto Princesa. Call the hotline (02) 528-7000 for schedules.

 

Along The Sands Of Puka Beach (In Pictures)

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Along The Sands Of Puka Beach (In Pictures)

December 31, 2011

Puka Beach

Boracay Island

Philippines

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As we walk along, we feel the morning sun warm the sands of Puka Beach.

A catamaran docks on the beach, bringing in tourists that hang about for a little over an hour before continuing to circumnavigate the island.

A line of artistically arranged drift wood indicate that we are nearing our favorite spot on the beach.

~

We find an area of sparse trees. We mark our spot for the day.

We open our mat, and start to worship the sun.

~

As the mid day heat brings out our thirst, a small nipa hut offers refreshments.

Advertising in a very subtle manner.

Or a  coconut or two perhaps?

As we slowly move along, we meet an assortment of characters.

Like this old lady, Josefina, peddling some Puka Shells. She’s been doing it all her life. Raised her children through Puka Shells.

Do mind the cigarette on her left hand.

~

As we make our way back to our shady spot, we pass by a beached Bangka.

We pass by shells strung together by old fishing nets, as they gently sway on the breeze.

~

Taking a seat.

Taking in the view.

~

Children play along the shore,

Our Russian neighbors finally venture out of their shady camp.

Thanks for the wonderful music by the way.

~

When the sun shines gold, the temperature cools down.

It’s time to pick out some shells along the sand to bring home.

~

The clouds in the sky announce that the sun is about to set.

 We sit along the sands of Puka Beach as we bask under the sun’s dying rays.

Another Boracay day comes to a close.

Thirty Seconds At Puka Beach

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January 1, 2012

Puka Beach

Boracay Island

Philippines

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Celebrating the New Year in Puka Beach.

~

An outrigger passes by..

My bubba waves..

Kids play on the shore..

While Russians bathe under the hot January sun.

~

As I have stated in my previous blog (click here ), Puka Beach is always our favorite spot on the entire island of Boracay. Located at its northern tip, it is a perfect getaway from the crowded and bustling White Beach.

I just want to share this short video I took to show how beautiful this stretch of beach is.

Kite surfing in Bulabog Beach, Amihan Season (photo credit: http://www.wikipedia.org)

Since we were here around January, it falls under the Amihan season, where in the cool southeast wind brings in the dry season (from November to April) . This means that the northern and eastern parts of the island gets lots of wind and high waves. That’s why this is the favorite time of the year for kite surfers to enjoy their sport at Bulabog beach.

The sea in Puka Beach is still swim-“able” with some effort. You can hear the strength of the wind on the video.

On the other hand, White Beach (located west of Bulabog Beach), is as placid as a deep lake. No waves, just tranquil blue waters all around you.

Puka Beach, Habagat Season

 

The rainy season is ushered in by the Habagat, the southwest wind, from June to October. This is known as the wet season. This is the season when the winds change. White Beach gets buffeted by the wind and the sea gets rough while the northern and eastern beaches (i.e. Puka Beach, Bulabog Beach, Lapuz-lapuz Beach..) gets it’s share of tranquil seas.

So if you are planning a trip to Boracay Island, I hope that these tips can help you decide which dates to take during your trip.

If you want to know more about how to get to Boracay read my previous blog by clicking here.

A Refuge by Puka Beach

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A Refuge by Puka Beach

May 01, 2008

Bans Resort

White Beach Station 2

Boracay Island

~

“What the hell is going on?!” screamed Cholo.

I had just woke up and was a bit surprised about his sudden outburst.

“What’s wrong Bubba?” I asked as I walked to the small veranda.

“Look!” was all he said.

On the grass across the veranda, a satellite dish was being constructed.

I was speechless.

“Okay, we’re going back to manila now!” Cholo exclaimed while stomping off into the room.

After a few minutes of silence, I said “Look we just got here and it will be too expensive to rebook our tickets. Let’s go and find out if there are other quiet places to transfer to!”

Thank God he listened.

We asked the care taker of Bans Resort if there was indeed such a place.

White Beach is now teeming with local tourists and we found out soon enough that A.S.A.P* and (then called) S.O.P* were

having live broadcasts from opposite ends of White Beach.

If Cholo could have ripped all of his hair out of frustration, he would be bald by now.

Luckily, the care taker of Bans Resort knew a place for rent by Puka Beach.

Without hesitation and the fact that we haven’t seen the rooms and the amenities of the said place, we packed our bags, paid for the first two nights of our stay, hopped on a tricycle and headed for Puka Beach.

*A.S.A.P and S.O.P are two local variety shows from two rival networks in the Philippines

~

It was a short tricycle ride to Puka Beach. Around 20 minutes (+/-).

It costs us Php 100.

~

We arrived at Tesebel restaurant, as instructed. We were told to look for Tese, the woman in charge of the restaurant.

Tese is a plump woman with short hair. The air of authority around her is apparent but not over bearing. She greets us with a warm “Hello!”. Cholo then puts on his charm and goes on to explain the situation we were in earlier and continues on to say that we need a quite place to enjoy our vacation.

Tese then proceeds to show us the house which is located right beside the restaurant. It is a two storey house painted in green with details representing bamboo.

A Santo Niño watches over the balcony on the second floor.

Tese shows us around the second floor where four rooms for rent are located. She first brought us to the biggest room. There’s a bed, a television set, a lamp, towels and an air conditioning unit. Cholo asks me if I like the room. I told him I liked the room nearest the balcony. It had windows on both available sides, which lets more light and air in. Most of all it’s the fan room. I do not like using the air con at all, I prefer using an electric fan.  There are two bathrooms at the end.The house isn’t beach front. It is located on the main road approximately 500 meters away from Puka Beach.

The highlight of it all is that we were the only ones renting a room in the house.

As we moved into the room , we realized it was quite modest. But that’s a fact we didn’t mind at all. We will be on the beach the entire time.

When we opened the windows, we can see the nipa roof of our neighbor’s home while smoke rose through the holes.

I glanced at my watch to check what time it was. It was almost noon. They must be cooking lunch, I assumed.

I saw Cholo lay down on the bed to take a rest and I followed suit.

I smiled.

I can see the sky from my pillow.

~

After having  a hearty lunch of chicken and rice at Tesebel restaurant, we proceeded to Puka beach.

It’s a relatively short walk.

You pass by stores selling gasoline for tricycle drivers. With ample warning of  course.

 As you get closer to the beach, you pass by small kiosks selling beach wear…

and Puka shell accessories.

Puka Beach is just around the corner.

~

To get to Tesebel from the main port of  boracay, ride a tricycle and tell them to bring you to Tesebel Resturant near Puka beach. It will cost you Php150.

To get to Puka beach from White beach, go to the main road in boracay, hail a tricycle and be on your way. It costs around Php50 per person.

To book a room in Tesebel call +63362886705. Rates are from 1500++. Look for Tese.

Boracay 101

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Boracay 101

January 2, 2011

Caticlan Airport

Malay, Aklan

Philippines

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Cholo and I arrived two hours early before our 5:20 pm flight to Manila on Airphil Express.

I looked around the newly refurbished Caticlan Airport. I’m quite impressed.

“The airport has changed Bubba.” I told Cholo.

“Yes, quite a change from 3 years ago.” was his reply.

As we made our way to the check-in counter, I saw on the monitor that all 3 Cebu Pacific Flights were cancelled.

My panic button turned on.

I was relieved to see that our flights were still OK.

I was still curios.

“Why are the Cebu Pacific flights cancelled?”

“Will our flights get cancelled or be delayed?”

“What will happen if it does?”

All of these questions were racing in my mind while checking in, when …

“Would you like to be on an earlier flight sir?” asked the man behind the counter.

“Yes, we wouldn’t mind an earlier flight.” was our reply.

We got our boarding passes and proceeded to the departure gates and waited for our 3:50 pm flight to Manila.

~

It is now 4:30 pm.

We still have not left Caticlan.

No word has been said on the reasons why our flight was delayed.

Earlier, we had some coffee and blueberry cheese cake on a small cafe on the second floor.

We sat down on the cold steel benches by the departure gates and played Angry Birds to stop our patience from wearing thin.

Our original Airphil Express 5:20pm flight was rerouted to Kalibo. Thank God we got on an earlier flight!

2 SEAir flights arrived within 5 minutes of each other. Still delayed.

I was looking around and I was quite surprised to see that all the personnel from different airlines were in a rush.

Cebu Pacific was busy looking for passengers whose flights were rerouted to Kalibo.

SEAir was busy tearing off boarding passes of passengers.

According to the P.A. system our Airphil Express plane has just landed in Caticlan. We are requested to stand by the boarding gates to board once the aircraft is ready.

We were now walking to the plane.

Another Airphil Express plane landed.

The two SEAir planes that arrived prior took off only less than 5 minutes apart.

By 5:30 our plane was at the end of the runway getting ready to take off.

~

FLIGHTS 101

There are two ways to fly to Boracay. You can fly straight to Caticlan or via Kalibo.

If you fly to Kalibo, you will have to take a van conveniently located outside Kalibo International Airport. It costs around Php 175 per person. It will take you all the way to Caticlan Jetty Port. The only down side is you have to wait for the van to fill up before it leaves.

Flights to and from Caticlan are notorious for delays. Mostly because of airport congestion in manila or weather disruptions. When a flight is cancelled or rerouted, the airline company of that flight will assist you in making sure that you will get to your destination on the same day. If you are an outbound passenger you will take your new flight from Kalibo. The airline will provide a van from Caticlan Airport all the way to Kalibo International Airport. If you are an inbound passenger to Boracay, the airline will provide a van than will bring you from Kalibo International Airport all the way to Caticlan Jetty Port.

Kalibo International Airport is 90 minutes away.

One of the main reasons why flights get cancelled or rerouted is because the air traffic control tower closes right after sun set. Caticlan Airport is a small airport with a short runway the relies on sunlight. Once darkness falls, the airport goes dark because it is not equipped with lights. Thus when flights arrive or depart after sunset it is automatically rerouted to Kalibo International Airport. I found out about this while I was talking to the girl who served me my blueberry cheese cake and café latté.

When planning, make sure you have 3 or 4 hours lay over between flights. This is just to make sure that if your inbound flight will hit some unforseen delay it won’t affect your connecting flight to Boracay. This also goes for  your outbound flight connecting from Boracay.

So, if you have a connecting flight from Manila to anywhere else in the world, make sure to take an earlier flight out of Caticlan Airport. Though I know it sucks to wake up early, but it sucks even more if you miss your flight back to your country.

TERMINALS 101

Traveling to Boracay can be quite an “adventure” especially for foreign nationals transiting via Manila. Immediately upon arrival, most especially at NAIA Terminal 1, some foreign nationals get confused and overwhelmed because of the lack of infrastructure and available assistance.  All of which are heightened because of the humid weather. My best advice is to stay calm and ask around. We, Filipinos, will be glad to help you in any way possible.

Manila has 4 terminals.

Terminal 1 : Is where all major international flights operate from. The Following airlines operate from this terminal :

  1. Air China
  2. Air Niugini
  3. Asiana Airlines 
  4. Cathay Pacific
  5. China Airlines
  6. China Southern Airlines
  7. Delta Air Lines
  8. Dragonair
  9. Emirates
  10. Etihad Airways
  11. EVA Air
  12. Gulf Air
  13. Hawaiian Airlines
  14. Hong Kong Express Airways
  15. Japan Airlines
  16. Jeju Air
  17. Korean Air
  18. Kuwait Airways
  19. Malaysia Airlines
  20. Qantas
  21. Qatar Airways
  22. KLM
  23. Jetstar Asia Airways
  24. Jetstar Airways
  25. Royal Brunei Airlines
  26. Singapore Airlines
  27. Saudi Arabian Airlines
  28. Tiger Airways
  29. Thai Airways International
  30. United Airlines

Terminal 2 : Also known as The Centennial Terminal in commemoration of the 100th year of Philippine independence. This terminal is exclusively used by Philippine Airlines for all its domestic and international flights.

Terminal 3 : Is the newest(started operations in 2008) and biggest terminal in Manila. In the future, all international flights from Terminal 1 are to operate from here. As of this time, only the airlines listed below are the ones that operate from here:

  1. All Nippon Airways
  2. Airphil Express (All domestic and International flights)
  3. Cebu Pacific (All domestic and international flights)
  4. Zest Airways (Manila -Incheon flights only)

Terminal 4 : is the old Manila domestic terminal that hosts domestic flights by these airlines:

  1. Sky Pasada
  2. South East Asian Airlines (Seair)
  3. Zest Airways

Let it be known that all airport terminals in Manila are not interconnected by a train system. It is best to take a “coupon” taxi to get from one terminal to another, especially when you have a connecting flight to catch. You will need to pay a fixed rate of Php 300. Don’t use the yellow metered airport taxis, you’ll waste your precious time on queue.

When you are not in a rush, there is also a shuttle service provided by NAIA that goes through all terminals. I am not sure about how effective the service is, since I have not ridden on one yet. I have heard that on good days ,it is a quick ride; on bad days, one has to wait for hours. Then again, it only costs Php 20 per passenger. I am not sure where the shuttle services are located on each terminals. Just make sure to ask around, especially at the Airline Passenger Transfer Desk. They can definitely answer specific questions but most of all they can lead you to the right directions.

The terminals are located a kilometer or two from each other. It may take 30 minutes to an hour to get from one terminal to another depending on traffic.

Feel free to click on the names of the different airlines to be routed to their main website.

Baggage 101

Take note that all flights that fly straight to Caticlan offer only 10 kilos of baggage allowance per passenger and 7 kilos baggage allowance for hand carried luggage. The reason because planes that fly to Boracay are turboprop planes. Space is limited and the insurance paid for handling bags is only for 10 kilos.

So if your luggage is more than that, be prepared to pay extra. Rates differ from airline to airline.

If you are flying via Kalibo you are allowed 15 kilos or more for checked in baggage depending on the airline you are taking. It’s still 7 kilos for a single piece of hand carried luggage.  Kalibo is a bigger airport that can support bigger planes. The flights to and from Kalibo are cheaper and it has more room. Thus, more baggage allowance.

If you are traveling all over Asia and one stop in Boracay, here’s my advice. Prior to your arrival in the Philippines, prepare a small bag for your trip to Boracay. When you arrive in Manila feel free to leave your luggage at the airport lockers located at Terminal 1, Terminal 2 and Terminal 3.

*Terminal 1 has an Interline Baggage Room. This is exclusive for passengers arriving in Terminal 1. It is located at the right hand side of the arrival area near the carousel before customs and near the bathrooms. The telephone number is +632-877-11-09 local 3633.

*Terminal 2 has an exclusive baggage counter for Philippine Airline passengers. It is the Central Baggage Services. The telephone number is +632-877-11-09 local 2469.

**Terminal 3 has Luggage and More. Where you can store your luggage for Php 300 a day. Php 150 pesos per 3 hours for small bags and Php 200 per 3 hours for big bags.

Trust me when I say this will come as a relief as you travel along and you’re not tugging along your baggage that weighs more than 20 kilos.

Arriving in Caticlan 101

When you exit Caticlan airport turn to your right and go all the way straight to the corner where you will see a tricycle terminal.  This is what you are going to take to get to Caticlan jetty Port. It costs Php 50.

If you choose to walk it, it is only 10 minutes away.

Upon reaching Caticlan Jetty Port, before you can enter the terminal you will be pointed to Window 1. Here you will pay for the boat ride at Php 25 per person. You will then proceed to Window 2 where you are going to pay for the environmental and admission fee of php 75. Lastly, you will proceed to Window 3 where you will have to pay for the terminal fee of php 50 per person.

Once everything is paid for, you go inside the terminal and proceed to the banca (outrigger boat).

Arriving in Boracay 101

You will arrive at Boracay island via the Cagban Jetty Port.

From here proceed to the tricycle terminal and find out where your hotel is located along white beach. The dispatcher will help you with this. The rates to a specific area are fixed and are displayed on a metal “bulletin board” located right by the terminal.

Places to Stay in Boracay 101

When Cholo and I are there we usually there,  rent a small room in the house beside the Tesebelle restaurant in Yapak. What we like about it is that it is just a two minute walk to Puka beach. Will write a full review about this and post a link here as soon as it’s up.

To find the right place that suites your budget and style, you can search for places to stay at by going through Trip Advisor. ( <– Click to be brought to the main page)

You can also browse through the Boracay wikitravel page to see where you can stay. (Click here to be brought to the page.)

What to do in Boracay 101

Aside from swimming and sun bathing, You can go sucba diving.

Take boat tours and navigate the entire island. Go snorkeling and fish feeding.

Take a boat trip during sunset.
Go parasailing.
Go kiteboarding on Bulabog beach.

Go skimboarding along White beach.

Go motorbiking.

Go horse back riding.

And when you get tired, have a massage by the beach or enjoy a relaxing time in one of those spas.

Boracay Amenities 101

There are ATM machines and money changers located at d’Mall in Station 2.

If you ran out of water or in dire need of condoms, there is a small grocery store also located at d’Mall.

If you need medicines, there are pharmacies all around. One is conveniently located at d’Mall.

If worse comes to worse, there are clinics and hospitals with in minutes of White Beach.

If you are hungry, just walk along White Beach. There are so many places to choose from that you’ll get confused. There are fast food joints also located at d’Mall.

If you want to have drinks just walk along White Beach and pick the bar suites you best.

If you want to go dancing, at night just follow the music.

~

Boracay will always remain a personal experience. No matter how much you’ve read about Boracay, once you get there you will find the things you’d love to do by following your intuition. It will be a delight discovering places that you will learn to enjoy.

Celebrate a part of your life in Boracay.

Swim on the water, lay on the sand, bathe under the sun and have a coconut to quench your thirst.

`

*taken from http://www.philippines-travel-guide.com

**taken from http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=683633&publicationSubCategoryId=87

My New Passport

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My New Passport

September 29, 2011

1 PM

DFA Consular Office

Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard corner Bradco Street.

~

The cab come to a stop.

I look out the window and I see a lot of people milling around.

I psyched myself up by saying “It’s now or never!”

I faced the cab driver and paid him. Yes, with a hefty tip.

I go down and proceeded to the nearest gate.

Gate number 3.

I was about to ask the security personnel about where I should when a sign on the gate said “For those who have an internet appointment they should enter through gate number 2.”

With the heels of my leather shoes clicking on the pavement, I proceeded to search for the said gate.

After locating gate number 2, I looked down at my watch. It’s 1:oo pm and my schedule is at 2 pm. Should I cross the street and grab something to eat at McDonald’s?

“I am physically required to be at here by 1:30 pm. I have less than 30 minutes to spare!”, a debate ensues in my brain.

I decided against it and entered. It’s always better to be early than late. Besides, I don’t like eating in a hurry.

I now face the security guard while he checks my appointment “print out” that was emailed to me on the 8 days prior when I set my appointment. He then points me to a table where my appointment was to be verified.

After the verification officer pointed a laser gun at my paper, I had to ask him where to go next. “The first door on the right.” was all he said.

I proceeded and was blocked by a security guard. He checks my print out and says (in Tagalog) ” You’re due at 2pm. Go and take a seat first by the waiting area on the benches marked 2 PM.”

I look over to where he pointed.

There, seated under a tarpaulin tent was a long line of people sitting ; waiting for their appointment.

I let out a deep sigh and proceeded to find my place in line.

The waiting game has begun.

~

If you are a Filipino citizen, I’m sure you have already known for quite some time that the Department Of Foreign Affairs has “updated” the Passport application and renewal system. All you have to do is book online at http://www.passport.com.ph/ or call The DFA Passport Appointment System Hotline at telephone number 737-100 to book a date.

Here are my tips on how to survive a grueling day having your passport renewed:

1. Just make sure to bring the necessary documents that you were told to bring and make sure to PHOTOCOPY them before you get there. I have seen so many people lose their queue because they had to rush to the photocopy area to have some of their documents copied. The line is just as long!

2. Be physically present at the DFA consular office 30 minutes prior to your set time. Once your schedule has been set they will tell you this.

3. You are not allowed to bring any beverage or food inside the consular office. Make sure you had something to eat before going! Make sure you’ve peed or pooped! Make things easier for you.

4. Be observant. Read all the signs that you see. Ask the security personnel if you are in doubt, DO NOT ASK YOUR FELLOW APPOINTEES! They know not what they tell you and they are only there for themselves.

 ~

When I was looking for a seat under that hot tarpaulin tent, I didn’t know that there was a line. I sat down on an empty seat. I got a lot of heat from some women who said that I was inserting into the line.  Here’s what I said, “Pardon Me. I didn’t know there was a line. At this point I don’t give a shit where the line starts and ends. There was no need to be bitchy about it. Please proceed to the door if you want to go ahead and wait there” I stood up, put my tan leather bag over my arms and proceeded to the benches marked 3 pm. There I relaxed and continued observing people while no one was violating my air space.

~

5. The line will be non-existent once you proceed to the payment area . You get divided and mixed up on your way to the second floor after your documents and passport has been checked by the documents verification officer on the first floor. There are three cashiers and one line. Its Php 1200 for an expedited passport service (10 days) and Php 950 for regular passport service.

 

~

Once it’s your turn, The security personnel will tell you guys to stand up and proceed to the STEP 1 windows on the first floor. It’s still quite orderly UNTIL you are to proceed to the second floor for the STEP 2 of the process. Payment of passport.

My passport has just been cancelled and the guy asks me, “Would you like to have your passport process expedited?”

“YES!” was my all out reply.

After watching him repeatedly stamp various things on my documents, he gives me my papers and tells me to proceed to the cashier on the second floor. upon exiting the building, I asked the security personnel where to proceed. He told me to go to the third door all the way at the end.

I stood in line upon finding the door that would lead me to the cashier. Then this young lad stepped in front of me.

“There’s a line.” I said.

He looks at me and goes, “I know and I was behind this guy in front of me the entire time.” He stands there while my patience starts to simmer. He then starts talking to the girls behind me. I knew what they were trying to do.

With my patience running thin, I turned to the girl behind me and said, “Would you like to stay in front of me even if I was here first?”

“We were together the entire time.” was all she said.

“At this point I don’t give a shit who’s with who. I was here first.”

Just about then, the security personnel let us all in.

~

6. If you see people falling in line and being all chummy and saying things “We’ve been together the entire time.”; DO NOT FALL IN LINE WITH THEM. They are people who are being handled by travel agencies. Once you get to the second floor, go straight to the main entrance and proceed to the cashier for your payment. If you follow their line, you will end up sitting outside waiting for their other companions to catch up.

7. After paying proceed to Step 3, The Encoding and Photo Capture Area,  which is like “12 inches away” from the cashier. This is the point where everyone will end up. It doesn’t matter if you set your appointment via the phone, the internet or through an agency. You have to get a number and wait for it to be called.

~

When I got my number, I started looking around looking for the electronic board to see what number was being called. To my horror, I saw the number 3109 flashing.

I looked around and realized that there are more than 80 encoders. This will definitely take a while.

~

8. Bring a book. It will keep you company when you have to wait for 400 people to be served before you.

9. You can pay for your passport delivery service at this point. It’s only Php 120.

10. Be patient. Throwing a fit or complaining will not get you any where.

A Placid Beach, Bantayan Island

Video
A Placid Beach, Bantayan Island

April 2011

Beach Palcid

Bantayan Island , Cebu Philippines

Enjoying the Sun and the Sea.

~

To get to Bantayan Island, you need to fly into Cebu City.

Upon exiting Mactan – Cebu International Airport, you hail a cab and tell him to bring you to the North Bus Terminal. Just ask around which bus goes to the port of Hagnaya in San Remegio, Cebu. Buses for Hagnaya depart every hour starting at 6 AM. The last trip of the day is at 5 PM. It takes 2.30 Hours to 3 Hours to get to Hagnaya from Cebu City. An aircon bus ride costs Php 180 pesos per person, one way.

Upon reaching the port of Hagnaya, you would have to catch a ferry boat for the municipality of Santa Fe.  Tickets range from Php 130 to Php 150 per person. It takes an hour. Just make sure to arrive at the port of Hagnaya before the last boat departs at 5:30 PM.

There are private vans for hire at the North Bus Terminal. It costs around 2500 – 3500 to rent a van. The rate depends on your haggling skills.

There are flights available from Cebu City to Banatayan operated by Midsea Express (click here for their website.). The 25 minutes flight costs Php 1500 per person / per way. You just have to call and inquire in advance if they have flights scheduled for Bantayan.

RoRo boats from Cebu City to Bantayan are also a nice alternative IF time is not an issue. Unfortunately, I could not give you any advice about this because I am not well versed with which shipping line goes to Bantayan.

~

Cholo and I stayed at Beach Placid (click here to be brought to their website).

It is conveniently located 5 minutes away from the port of Sta. Fe.  Just peruse through their website to see their rooms available and their corresponding rates.