Sunday, September 25, 2011

Travel Nostalgia: An Aerial View of Baguio City

One of my well traveled professor said that flying via the South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR) to Batanes is like having a very interesting geography lesson. A couple of days latter,one clear day of April 2010 I got the chance to prove if what he said is true. 

The German built Dornier 328 took off smoothly from the Manila Domestic Airport. I intently prayed for a safe flight.

Halfway in the flight the intercom went on and the pilot greeted us and welcomed us aboard. His greetings was in sync with the location of the plane that time.

Travel Tip: Use Stored Value Tickets (LRT and MRT)

Do you frequently go to and travel within Metro Manila?
Do you prefer commuting aboard affordable, air-conditioned, fast, traffic free, reliable mass transportation?
If you answered a "yes" to the questions above then commuting via the elevated  LRT (Light Rail Transit) Lines 1 and 2 and the MRT (Metro Rail Transit) will give you value for your money.
You can save money and time if you will choose to buy a stored value ticket (SVT) instead of a single journey ticket.
Here are some of the advantages of using an SVT:

First, You get to save money. A stored value ticket (LRT 1 and 2, MRT)  is worth Php 100.00. A single journey ticket costs Php 15 (Monumento Station to Baclaran Station or North Station to Taft Avenue Station). If you pick the stored value option you get to ride at least seven times, given that each trip's regular cost is Php 15.00, because you get the last ride almost for free because of the "Last Ride Bonus". Seven stored value tickets, at Php 15.00 each, costs Php 105. You save Php 5.00 each time you buy a SVT. There are special SVT for Senior Citizens, if I am not mistaken, they can purchase an that SVT for only Php 80.00.

Second, You save precious time. With a stored value ticket at hand you can proceed directly to the ticket barriers instead of lining up at the ticket selling booth every time you commute via the LRT or MRT. Lines to purchase tickets are almost permanently long during the rush hours in the morning and late in the afternoon/early evening. Lining up can be a hassle especially if your are trying to catch a meeting, an event, much more a scheduled flight! With an SVT you dont have to again and again get your wallet and look for small bills and coins. The saved time can be used for other more important matters.

Third, SVTs have Longer Validity. A stored value ticket for the LRT Line 1 (Blue) And Line 2 (Red) is valid for 6 months from the date it is first used. While for the MRT an SVT worth Php 100.00 is valid for 3 months from date of first use. Thus a SVT is good option also for those who visit the Metro Manila on a weekly or monthly basis.

I hope that with the reasons mentioned above you can try using a stored value ticket when using the LRT  and/or MRT. With such things like the SVT traveling within Metro Manila is made more comfortable.

Reminder: Please secure the SVT you purchased at all times. A lost SVT is money wasted.

To know more about the Light Rail Transit System here is a link to their website: LRTA
To know more about the Metro Rail Transit System here is a link to their website: MRT

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Makati: Lunch with a View

It was my first time to dine, earlier this day, at the Jollibee branch located at the ground floor of the Insular Life Building at the Makati CBD (Central Business District). I got seated with my lunch tray by the tall glass window (or wall) of this branch which is a good move. Why? Aside from enjoying good (tasty)  and affordable food ( prices in all branches of a fast food chain are standardized) while in Makati I also got a splendid view for no additional cost.

While sipping ice cold Coca-Cola, sitting comfortably,  I can see the busy stream of vehicles on the palm tree-lined Ayala Avenue as the traffic from Paseo de Roxas merges with it smoothly. Ayala Avenue is known as one of the most prestigious office addresses in the Philippines and it is said that it is the "Wall Street" of the Philippines. I also got a good view of the Ninoy Aquino monument guarding the entrance to Paseo de Roxas. My seat location offered refreshing views of iconic buildings at the Makati CBD such as the pink Makati Shangri-la Hotel, Allied Bank Center, Ernest & Young, SGV & Co Tower 1 and 2, i Academy, and the HSBC Branch at the Enterprise Center.

I savored more the taste of the burger and fries combo with a glimpse of the modern, sleek, glass-walled Tower One and a portion of the lush Ayala Triangle Gardens. Its fun to watch the street scene while eating. Clean. Verdant. Modern. A slice of progressive Philippines at its best.

Definitely  a splendid view of the Makati Central Business District is a good compliment to a lunch at Jollibee.

So the next time you are in Makati and want to eat lunch on a budget, better try Jollibee Insular Life Branch, select your seat fast to get and see that splendid view by the window.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Travel Nostalgia: The Manila Bay Sunset

It is great to watch a sunset, it is a graceful signal of transition between day and night. Being in different places gives you a chance to see the sunset in different ways This part of the day, along with sunrise, is probably the most photographed part of a day. Photographs serve as good link to the past. As for me, instead of photos,  I recall the famous sunset by the bay in Manila from memory. The Manila Bay Sunset is one of my favorites for it reminds me of sweet memories that I'll always remember.

I first saw the sunset at Manila Bay when I was still at the preparatory level, around 1995. Viewing the sunset along Roxas Boulevard capped and made my first visit to Manila a memorable one. Along with my family we spent a couple of minutes watching the sunset.  I can still remember ships dotting the horizon, waves were gently touching the boulders at the sea wall, small crustaceans busy scuttling on the sand, the gentle breeze blowing as the sun slowly set. The colors are at play at the sky.  It is a beautiful sight.  That was probably the first time I saw the vastness of the sea and even from afar how a real ship looks like. The shore near Roxas Boulevard was cleaner that time, a perfect venue for watching the wonder that is the sunset.

I was able to see the Manila Bay Sunset during my first year in college. It is a blessing that our campus is quite near the "Bay walk" in Roxas Boulevard. To watch the sunset all it takes is a short and leisurely walk from our campus in Padre Faura.  After all those years since the sunset by the bay is still a sight to behold. I fell in love with its beauty. Together with my best friends we would buy some snacks and walk to Roxas Boulevard and spend some time in relaxation while watching the sunset.  We usually take a stroll along the bay walk if we arrived early before the sunset that allowed us to do people watching, crack jokes, and observe the trash that the current brings. That is a good way to observe and feel the vibe of Manila. We were often lucky to see the Manila Bay Sunset in its full splendor but there are also times when clouds cloak the setting sun.

 We look for a perfect spot to sit and our animated chatter stops as we see the sun slowly set. The glowing orb making a dip in the bay that is witness to our stories, comments on various things, and gleeful laughter. From there we go home refreshed and ready to face another day ahead.  It is our "traditon" to go there commonly on a friday to joyfully close another week at school. Watching the Manila Bay Sunset is one of our barkada's favorite bonding moments.

The Manila Bay Sunset will always be special for it reminds me of the important persons in my life. I first saw the sunset at Manila Bay with my family and been awed again by it with my best friends in College. I think that one way or another it has been a happy part of the memory of the various travelers that visited Manila through the years.

Seeing the Manila Bay Sunset, Roxas Boulevard is the perfect free spot to do so, is definitely a must when in Manila. Next time that you are in Manila do watch the sunset by the bay and make a part of a memory that you will cherish.

The Manila Bay Sunset is a gift from God and is one of the things that makes the Philippines special.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Malolos City: A Short Visit to the Bulacan Provincial Capitol

This week I got an opportunity to drop by the Bulacan Provincial Capitol and meet up with a friend. The building has a prominent location and can seen from the busy MacArthur Highway. If you are in Malolos it is worth your time to drop by and see this place. The structure is painted white giving it a very clean look. The Provincial Capitol was built before the advent of the Second World War. It has undergone restorations and re-decorations at different points of time and rule of the different Provincial Governors. It houses most of the offices of the different departments of the Provincial Government of Bulacan. Because of its size and the quiet strength of its simplicity I fondly call it the "Palace in Malolos". 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Postcards to Indonesia, Estonia and Finland

Last September 1, 2011 I visited the Post Office to mail 3 postcards. The postcards are for three postcrossing project members residing in different countries. 

One of the postcards is bound for Indonesia. Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world, home to famous destinations such as Borobudur and the island of Bali. 

Estonia is another country of destination of one of these postcards. Tallinn, the capital, will be the new home of the postcard I sent. 

The longest distance would be covered by the postcard that I sent to Finland. Hopefully, the postcard will witness a Scandinavian smile once it is received. 

Postcards are lucky for they get to go to faraway places for a fixed price of Php 14.00 each! Sceneries and great things about a place are usually featured in a postcard. Thus, they serve as a visual link and an invitation for the receiver to travel the place shown. Hopefully the receivers would consider visiting our interesting country, the Philippines.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Quezon City: Our Lady of Peňafrancia at the Radio Veritas Chapel

Last September 8, 2011, I and my mother went to Radio Veritas to visit a well known and miraculous Marian image in the Philippines. Getting to Radio Veritas is easy because of its location inside the Paramount Building at the corner of EDSA and West Avenue in Quezon City. Radio Veritas 846,”Radyo Totoo”, is a Catholic AM radio station with its different programs broadcasted live 24/7.


The chapel of Radio Veritas hosts from time to a time travelling replica of some of the popular and miraculous Catholic images. September is the Blessed Virgin Mary’s birthday month and as well the time of the year for the Peňafrancia Festival of the Bicol Region, the chapel has a very relevant guest image. The purpose of our visit is to see the replica of Our Lady of  temporarily enshrined at the chapel.

At the Radio Veritas Chapel

The chapel was almost full when we arrived before noon. It has been more than 15 years since I last saw the image of the Our Lady of Peňafrancia in Naga City. Seeing the replica at the Radio Veritas made me happy, I felt a sense of calmness and I longing to revisit Naga City which is a very special place. Seeing the image, I recalled my childhood days in Naga and how fervently we asked the Blessed Mary to pray for us and intercede for our safety when a typhoon directly hits Bicol. The rosary was said before the mass, there were no vacant seats left many of the old ladies were standing while praying, and I think their faith and devotion made them strong. I guess most of the devotees that were inside the chapel were also in one way or another connected to the Bicol region for the Blessed Virgin Mary known as Our Lady of Peňafrancia is the loving patroness of the region. I am very thankful that an opportunity to see the image on the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary came my way.

The centuries old image of the Our Lady of Peňafrancia is enshrined at the Basilica Minore in Naga City. I hope that we can get to visit again the shrine and Bicol very soon.

Caloocan City: Fruit Shops in front of the Victory Central Mall

Are you looking for last minute pasalubong purchase options before that bus trip? Want some healthy snacks? The fruit shops in front of the Victory Central Mall along Rizal Avenue in Caloocan City are the answer.  The location is convenient to commuters for the shops are adjacent to the bus terminal of Victory Liner.

The shops generally sell fruits that are in season and are typically sold per kilo at low/affordable prices. Haggling is allowed! This September, I saw rambutan, large santol, guapple (a large guava), and guyabano along with other fruits which are available whole year such as bananas, imported oranges and apples. There are also sliced green mangoes with bagoong dip, ready to eat yellow corn, native cakes, and the refreshing buko (coconut) juice for a quick healthy snack.

Before boarding the bus, my mother bought two pieces of large santol, photo shown above, which weighed one kilogram. The price is only 20 pesos per kilo. We ate one of what we purchased and it tastes great, a good buy!  Definitely were going to buy fruits again from there next time we are in Caloocan City. 

A Cute Pal from Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro

Shown in the picture is a colorful wooden key ornament. It is a gift from my sister who visited Puerto Galera a couple of years ago. Puerto Galera is one of the main travel destinations of Oriental Mindoro (Region IV-B).  White sand beaches, dive sites, verdant mountains are some of the well known attractions of the places.  I named this wooden keychain as Butchog and one of my favorites in the collection of travel mementos I started.

I hope I’ll get a chance to visit Puerto Galera soon and as well as the rest of Region IV-B. The provinces of Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan are also part of the region known by the acronym of MIMAROPA.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Lakbay Jose Rizal: The Kamestisuhan District of Malolos

As a way of honoring Jose Rizal, our national hero and an experienced traveler, I joined the Lakbay Jose Rizal @ 150 project. Its goal is for the public to “rediscover and visit the sites and attractions which became part” of Jose Rizal’s colorful life in celebration of his 150th birth anniversary (Lakbay Jose Rizal @ 150 Pasaporte, 2011).

A special brochure called Pasaporte was made to serve as a guide to the participants. Pilgrims to the featured attractions can have their brochures stamped onsite as proof of visit. Prizes await the first 100 to complete all the stamps! The Lakbay Jose Rizal Pasaporte is available at Room 106 of the Department of Tourism Head Office in Manila. I got my copy one afternoon of June before the official start of Lakbay Jose Rizal. The duration of the project is from June 16, 2011 until June 16, 2012.

A part of Kamestisuhan

As a Rizaliana pilgrim,my first stop is the Kamestisuhan District of Malolos City. Malolos City is the capital of the Province of Bulacan. It is home to one of the most popular historical landmark in the country, the Barasoain Church. There are other historical sites that can be found in Malolos other than Barasoain Church and two of these are part of the Lakbay Jose Rizal @ 150 trail.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Travel Suggestion: Feasts of September

September is the first of the four “ber” months. September ushers in the last quarter of the year and the start of the longest Yuletide season in the world – Philippine Christmas.  This is the month wherein the 100 days to Christmas countdown is started. Yuletide tunes are also first heard from the radios come this month. Before you get busy planning for the events in December, here are Catholic feasts from two different regions this month that you may want to witness.

The Feast of Turumba in Pakil, Laguna (Region IV-A)
Postage Stamp depicting the feast at Pakil
                The longest novena in the Philippines is first prayed before the feast. Prayers last for 63 days wherein there are seven sets of nine-day novenas called lupi. The highlight of the feast is a dancing procession in Pakil. During the procession a replica of the Virgin of Sorrows is carried up by the devotees (Javellana, 1999).

                This is a good opportunity to visit the impressive structure that is San Pedro de Alcala Church of Pakil. In my opinion, the interior of Pakil Church along with its retablos (altars) is one of the most ornate that I have seen.

The Peňafrancia Festival in Naga City, Camarines Sur (Region V)

Patroness and "Ina" of Bicolandia

                The feast is celebrated in Naga City every third Sunday of September, this is one of the “moveable” Catholic feasts in the country. Each year devotees from the different parts of the Bicol Region, other parts of the country, and even from overseas gather in Naga City to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary known as the Our Lady of Peňafrancia. The traslación and the fluvial procession are the highlights of the festival. The replica of the statue of the Blessed Virgin is accompanied by a sea of devotees as it is transferred from the Minor Basilica to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Naga. The fluvial procession, on the eve of the feast, marks the return of the image from the Cathedral back to the Basilica Minore which is located along the river bank.

These feasts show the strong Catholic side of our country and the love of Filipinos for celebrations. Travel to Pakil, Laguna and Naga City, Camarines Sur to witness great stories of faith and know more about our interesting country, the Philippines.

Javellana, R.B., S.J. 1999. Pinoy Almanac and Planner. Manila: Tahanan Books.