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Malapascua Island: The Home of Thresher Sharks

August 24th, 2014 · No Comments

Diving in Malapascua

Looking for some thresher shark diving experience? cebu mapVisit the Malapascua Island in the Philippines. Malapascua Island is the only place in the whole world where you can have magnificent daily sightings of thresher sharks in action. Malapascua Island is an island of Cebu in the Visayan Sea in the Philippines. Due to the decreasing number of thresher shark species in the world, a marine park was made for these magnificent sea creatures to protect and rehabilitate them.

This marine park is called Monad Shoal. Monad Shoal is a sunken island near Malapascua Island that has a land area of 18-24 meters on top and the sides dropped off to about 230 meters. The Monad Shoal becomes the cleaning station of thresher sharks early in the morning every day. The cleaning services to the thresher sharks are courtesy of small fishes called cleaning wrasse. These wrasses would clean up the thresher sharks’ body, gills, and mouth from bacteria and dead skin. Because of this symbiotic relationship between thresher sharks and wrasses, eating wrasses would never come to the mind of any thresher shark.

The thresher sharks at Malapascua Island live and hunt almost the whole day in the deep waters of the island. The best time to dive for thresher sharks in Malapascua Island is between the time of sunrise and nine in the morning. There are dive resorts in Malapascua Island that offer dive tours for anyone interested in thresher sharks.

The thresher sharks in Malapascua Island are not threats to human life. When divers or any other elements startle the thresher sharks, they just swim over to the side of the Monad Shoal. If there were no sudden movements from divers, the thresher sharks would come up so close to the point that you could almost touch them.

The cleaning wrasses of Monad Shoal at Malapascua Island do not attract thresher sharks alone but other pelagics as well. Devil rays and manta rays are seen often in the area. Other shark species aside from thresher sharks are occasionally seen such as whitetips and hammerheads especially in the months of January to March when hammerheads are abundant in the waters of Malapascua Island.

Other sea creatures also make their home at the Monad Shoal at Malapascua Island like barracuda, batfish, tuna, flutemouths, mantis shrimps, lionfish, pipefish, moorish idols, scorpionfish, squid, bannerfish, octopus, unicornfish, and moray eels.

Diving in Malapascua Island is a great place to find an undersea adventure. You are bound to see the magnificent thresher sharks up close.

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Diving in Cabilao: A Small Island’s Pride

August 24th, 2014 · 2 Comments

Diving in Cabilao

Cabilao is a small island that is under the jurisdiction of Loon, Bohol. Cabilao has a land of area of 7.2 sq. kilometers. bohol mapThe reefs within the crystal clear water of Cabilao makes it an ideal place for diving. The best dive site in Cabilao is the House reef. This dive site is situated right in front of Cabilao Diver Center. On the left side of the House reef is a fish sanctuary of Cabilao. The House reef has about a thousand meters long of Gorgonia Wall.

The Gorgonia Wall of the House reef runs in parallel to the shore of Cabilao. There are several small caves to explore including overhangs. Of all the corals that cover this dive site in Cabilao, the giant fan corals are the most interesting ones.

The house reef can really amaze any diver because of the variety of marine life it contains. Diving is possible any time of the year but there are some dives that must be planned carefully because of the unstable water current of Cabilao.

After the Gorgonia Wall is a plateau that is about 30 meters in depth. This dive site is called the Shark View Point because of the presence of large pelagics such as Thresher, Blacktip, Whitetip, and Hammerhead Sharks. This dive site is at the corner side of the House reef in Cabilao.

From the Shark View Point plateau, you will come to the slope area of the House reef in Cabilao. This dive site is the Lighthouse where you can find a very wide slope with seagrass meadow and coral formations. The depth of the Lighthouse is about 20 meters. This dive site is best in Cabilao for muck diving.

From the shores of Cabilao, another dive site is within reach. This dive site is called the Chapel Point, which is about 10 minutes away from Cabilao Dive Center by boat. Some of the interesting things that can be seen in Chapel Point are hard corals, caves, overhangs, and lots of reef fish. The Chapel Point is a great dive site to look for Pygmy seahorses.

Another dive site in Cabilao is the South Point that is about 15 minutes away from Cabilao Dive Center. The South Point is a great dive site where you can observe the various marine species compete for space and light. Due to this competition, the result is an amazing reef structure that is ancient and undamaged up to this day.

These dive sites in Cabilao are worth every diver’s visit. The friendly community of the island would welcome you with warmth and hospitality.

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The Enchanting and Beautiful Dive Sites of Anilao

August 24th, 2014 · No Comments

anilaoMany believe that the forefront of the diving industry in the Philippines is the place of Anilao in Batangas. Anilao is also known as the diving birthplace in the Philippines. Many enchanted, beautiful and amazing dive sites are in Anilao making the place a popular diving destination in the Philippines. For underwater photographers, the dive sites in Anilao are perfect because the visibility is often good than not. Any dive site in Anilao can accommodate any diver ranging from novice to experienced divers.

The Maricaban Island is a dive site in Anilao with mild to strong water current. Its depth ranges from six to 37 meters. The Maricaban Island is only a short boat trip from the coastline of Anilao. The dive site has a variety of diving challenges. There are drop-offs, sandy slopes, overhangs, and caves. The dive site is excellent for macro-photographers.

The Bonito Island is a dive site that has a strong current with a depth of 18 to 24 meters. The dive site is a marine sanctuary in Anilao that have lots of coral heads. Fusiliers, snappers, and jacks are abundant in the Bonito Island. Moray eels, stingrays, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins can be found in the sandy area of the dive site.

The Malajibomanoc is a dive site that has a number of hot springs at the depth of 20 meters. This dive site is also a marine sanctuary in Anilao where corals are abundant together with the crinoids and barrel sponges. Encounters with parrotfish, batfish, groupers, trumpetfish, pufferfish, and other more are very common. Frequently, presence of blacktip reef sharks is in the area of the dive site.

The Layag-Layag is a dive site that has a depth of ten to 18 meters with a medium to strong water current. This dive site in Anilao has an extensive formation of corals within the steep and shallow slope. The marine life is truly abundant with a very excellent visibility especially for underwater photography. The presence of the huge Spanish Dancer nudibranches is the main attraction of the dive site.

The Mapating Rock is a dive site that has a depth of 20 to 40 meters with very strong water current. The dive site is also called the Shark’s Reef because of the occasional presence of Grey Reef and Whitetip sharks. The dive site has a series of drop-offs with very strong current, hence, only experienced divers are allowed in this area in Anilao.

Other wonderful and enchanted dive sites in Anilao aside from the ones mentioned above are Arthur’s Rock, Beatrice Rock, Mainit Point, Koala, The Cathedral, Ligpo Island, Twin Rocks, Bethlehem, Devil’s Point, Sombrero Island, and many more.

Indeed, Anilao is a haven and forefront for the diving industry in the Philippines. Local foreign divers crowded the dive sites in Anilao to get a magnificent and memorable view of the underwater ecosystem.

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Safety in Public Transport Vehicles

August 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

When traveling in the Philippines using public vehicles, there are certain measures we need to observe for safety. Remember these measures when aboard public transport vehicles and travel will be safe and enjoyable.

Wait for public transport in designated places. Some cities strictly adhere to boarding rules. Wait for the public transport vehicle to stop at the designated place before stepping on its steps or platform landing, or even holding to any of its alighting gears.

Most public buses and jeepneys are known to move even while passengers are still standing and walking inside them. Some public transport even suddenly jolt for a fast start. So always hold on to something firmly fastened gears inside public transport vehicles.

Most public buses and jeepneys are also known to overtake and abruptly cut other vehicles in major roads and highways. Watch especially when they negotiate curves and U-turn slots, or when buses and cabs come rampaging down from flyovers. Make sure to find a secure lace to seat or stand. Hold on to something firmly fixed. In cabs, make sure to have the seatbelt on, and check the rear or front seats first before boarding. This is to make sure the cab is really empty. Check all locks.It also pays to get the plate and body number of the public transport vehicle and report it to the Metro Manila Development Authority through its hotline 136 or 8820877.

In public transport buses, it would be a safe choice to sit near the front, somewhere near the back of the bus driver. But don’t sit at the very front beside the bus driver seat. In head-on collisions the seat at the very front of public transport buses may prove lethal. Other seats lethal in a great impact collision are the middle and end part of a public transport bus. So it’s best to choose seats between the middle and the front of the bus. These seats are near the door of the public transport bus.

In a public transport jeepney, it’s safe to sit at the middle of the rear bench. Lethal collisions happen when the jeepney is hit head-on or at the tail end. Sitting at the rear bench near the driver is disadvantageous in an emergency. It is farthest to the rear exit.

Public transport vehicles are enjoyable and often safe vehicles. But to be doubly safe, it’s best to choose seats or places that afford more comfort and safety.

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Types of Expats Learning the Language and their Challenge

August 23rd, 2014 · 2 Comments

Taken from the Latin word ex(out of) and patria(country, fatherland), an expatriate or expat in short is a person who resides or visits temporarily or permanently in another country. An expat in the Philippines may refer to a Westener, say an American or British in the country or a non-Westener, say a Japanese or a Chinese living in the Philippines who are distinguishable by their way of living.

In wherever country they may be expats always encounter many difficulties. Among these are difficulties in adopting a new culture and language. In the Philippines, learning the language is one of the many things an expat finds difficult. Learning Tagalog language specifically is a challenge to almost all expats.

With regards to learning the language, there are three types of expats learning the language. The first one being those who are aggressive towards learning. They are those people who do not care about income at first. They make learning their priority and will do whatever to learn the language very quickly. They learn the language in their own pace rather than being under supervision which they find boring. They in general has 100% success rate regardless of their level of intelligence. This may be due to the fact that they talk with mostly or only on their target language.

The second one are those who are are smart and uncertain who think about their economics or money budget for the language they want to learn. Their focus is constrained and sometimes they have to stop and go on their language attempts. In four years being in the country you might find this people quite good in the language already. The percentage of success for this group is 50%.

The third type are those who lack self confidence. They might be the smartest of all but since they lack self confidence they have difficulty in learning the language. They have think that they don’t have the gift of language and thus their lack of self confidence make their learning slow. This group has a 100% failure rate because they don’t have the right attitude.

For expats in the Philippines their challenge is to learn Tagalog. Tagalog being the language spoken by most Filipinos and the root of the Filipino Language the national language of the Philippines.

Just like all other languages, learning Tagalog in the Philippines may be hard. But with dedication and right attitude towards learning the language little by little an expat will find himself able to speak the language. Having enough money budget for the language helps a lot. Having money, dedication and right attitude towards a language helps ensure learning to the maximum.

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Insurance for Expats Living in the Philippines

August 23rd, 2014 · 3 Comments

Living and retiring in the Philippines is a dream come true for some. With pristine beaches and all the other perks of nature and man-made establishments accessible at a very low cost, the country becomes irresistible for prospective expatriates. That is why a lot of foreigners are biting the country’s many allures. They move in and discover another brand of living apart from what they grew up with.

Before settling down to any country, the Philippines included, an expat must ensure that all the factors that will affect his quality of life are fulfilled. One good way to start is to avail of an insurance plan.

International insurance companies are mostly the option of foreigners looking to settle down in the Philippines. As local insurances are geared to secure the locals, they do not usually have time to focus on expats. That is why the international insurance industry is in full force. It is very much ready to take on every concern of an expat covered to keep him protected and secure in a foreign country.

The cost of living in the Philippines may be cheap, but still expats need to spend for it. The role of insurances in this case is to serve as a security blanket when certain incidents ask for it. Always make allowances to pay for your insurance. Imagine how much they will mean for you in the future.

The most important kind of insurance that you need to apply before taking the leap of settling down completely in the Philippines is intended for health care expenses. Expats are mostly prone to the common sickness, especially at the early stage of their stay due to the change in weather and surroundings. Every once in a while, you will need to undergo medical check-ups that will ensure your body is adjusting well to the Filipino lifestyle. In case of accidents that will require hospital confinement, insurance could also mean a big deal.

The other important insurance plans that you need to avail as an expat in the Philippines include those that are intended to take care of your properties. Car and home insurance are a great help in keeping your worries in check.

Before thinking about moving in to another country like the Philippines, make sure that you have thought about it thoroughly. Study your options well in terms of comfort living and for sure, you will never go wrong. Ideally, go around the country as a visitor first so you could look through the opportunities at bay. If you liked what you saw and felt, then it is time to take the leap.

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Antipolo: The Pilgrimage City

August 23rd, 2014 · 8 Comments


Antipolo MapNamed after the “tipolo,” or breadfruit tree that grew in bountiful amounts on the cool, breezy central highlands of Rizal Province, Antipolo City is about 26 kilometers east of the City of Manila. It is bordered on the west by Marikina City and the Municipality of Cainta; on the east by Quezon Province; on the south by the municipalities of Taytay, Teresa and Angono; on the southeast by the Municipality of Tanay; and, on the north by the municipalities of San Mateo and Rodriguez. This 30,610-hectare 1st class city became the capital of the Province of Rizal when Pasig City, the former provincial capital, became a part of Metro Manila in 1975.

Antipolo had its beginnings in 1578 when the Franciscan missionaries built a church in Boso-Boso. Soon, a community grew and flourished and in 1626, Governor-General Juan Nino de Tabora bequeathed to the Antipolo church the image of the Virgin Mary that he brought from Acapulco, Mexico. The image survived numerous conflicts and pillages through centuries of wars and rebellion and this highland city played a prominent role in the country’s epic struggles for freedom in its journey towards nationhood. In 1898, it was a part of the Philippine Revolutionary Government and was the center of the guerilla resistance movement nearest to Manila during the Japanese occupation in World War II.

Throughout these turbulent times, the image was brought to safe havens in Cavite and Acapulco. Aptly named, “Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage,” the Virgin of Antipolo has thousands of devotees from Manila, the surrounding towns and provinces who trek the mountain trails, foothills and springs during the Holy Week to attend the Holy Mass at the Antipolo Cathedral. This annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage at the Cathedral of Antipolo earned for the city the monicker, “Pilgrimage City.”

What to see in Antipolo

While this highland city does not offer white sand beaches and pounding surf, it is endowed with a breathtaking view of Metro Manila and its surrounding towns and captivating natural attractions and scenic spots. A visit to this Pilgrimage City will also give the intrepid traveler the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the devotion of people to our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. These spots are many and varied, and are not limited to the following:

The Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage: Located in the Cathedral of Antipolo sitting right in the center of the city, the Shrine of the Virgin of Antipolo attracts many travelers who are wishing for a safe journey. Every year starting in the evening of April 30 until dawn of the following day, devotees travel on foot from Quiapo Church in Manila all the way up to our Lady’s Shrine in a journey called “Alay Lakad” to commemorate the transfer of the holy image from its sanctuary in Quiapo Church to the Pilgrimage City after the liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese invaders.

Hinulugang Taktak: When one thinks of Antipolo, Hinulagang Taktak waterfalls always invariably comes to mind. The well-arranged area around the waterfalls which had been declared a National Park contains picnic cottages, a swimming pool, pathways and walks that afford a nice view of the falls. During the merry month of May, live cultural plays and concerts that are held in this resort add to the fun and entertainment. Entrance fee to the park is P8.00, and if the hot weather entices you to take a dip in the pool, just add an extra P15.00.

The Mystical Cave: This natural underground rock formation also attracts many religious devotees especially during the Lenten Season because the stalactite and stalagmite limestone formations eerily resemble religious icons and images. This place is owned by Inday Deles of Iloilo who traveled around the Philippines in search of this mystical cave whose vision had been coming to her in her dreams since she was seven years old. The entrance fee to the cave is P30.00 inclusive of a guided tour.

Where to Eat In Antipolo

A great view that complements great food is what defines the places to eat in this Pilgrimage City overlooking crowded Metro Manila. Some of the places where you can have great chow and great sights are the following:

Padi’s Point: Located on a cliff overlooking Metro Manila along the winding Sumulong Road on the outskirts of Antipolo City. Eating and drinking while enjoying the sunset view of the metropolis is an experience you will never forget. The food is eclectic and reasonably priced.

Sumulong Highway
Antipolo City, Rizal

Crescent Moon Café: This place features Southeast Asian food without the artificial flavorings and seasonings that are in curry dishes found in many Pan Asian and Pacific Rim cooking. The cooks here do not scrimp on expensive spices and are more generous with genuine coconut milk which is often sorely wanting in many Thai restaurants. Try their Alagao appetizer or yummy suman for desert while gazing at the exotic koi fishes that populate the two ponds in the restaurant compound. This place is quite difficult to find, and only the most persistent of gourmets are rewarded with the pleasure of having their taste buds tickled with its famous culinary delights. The menu is a bit pricey at USD11.00 – 20.00, or P440.00 – P800.00 converted at current forex rates.

Ascension Road
Baragay Dalig, Antipolo City
Tel. No. 630-5854

Vieux Chalet: If you want a good hearty meal of authentic French, German or Italian style of cooking, try this Swiss restaurant that is set near the Hinulugang Taktak falls. While this place is a bit pricey at USD11.00 – 20.00, or P440.00 – P800.00 converted at current forex rates, the experience is well worth it.

Taktak Road
Antipolo City, Rizal Province
Tel. No. 697-0396

Where to Stay in Antipolo

Overlook Resort: Located along a newly laid road called Overlook Drive, after which it was named, this resort has 30 rooms that can accommodate 4 people in each room. Starting at USD20.00 or P800.00 converted at current forex rates, Guests can be accommodated in an airconditioned room with TV, private shower and toilet and an overlooking view of Metro Manila in some parts of the resort. Additional resort amenities are two pools, two seminar rooms and a restaurant.

Overlook Drive
Antipolo City, Rizal Province
Tel. Nos. +632-696-0240 or 696-0054

Seven Suites Hotel Observatory: This place is so named because it has a huge telescope and a resident astronomer that helps guests use the telescope and explain awesome celestial bodies. A room can be snagged for a hefty USD80.00 -120.00, or P3,200.00 – P4,800.00 at current forex rates, but it comes with free use of wi-fi, DVD player and movies from the hotel selection, good food and fast and professional service, A/C rooms, minibar and cable TV.

Sumulong Highway
Antipolo City, Rizal
Tel. Nos. 490-6407; 682-0330;and, 682-2076

How to Get to Antipolo

Manila to Antipolo and Back: The nearest province to Manila is Rizal, so getting to Antipolo City is no problem. The easiest and fastest way to get there from Manila is to take the Light Rail Transit 2 (LRT2) train at any station which will take you all the way up to Santolan Station. From there, hop into a jeepney or FX cab bound for the Antipolo Cathedral. The fare from here is about P35.00 and the train ride from Manila will cost about P30.00.

Cebu to Antipolo and Back: To reach Antipolo from Cebu, you can either fly or sail from Cebu to Manila. Approximate cost of a round trip plane ticket is P4,000.00 – P5,000.00 while a round trip boat fare is approximately P3,000.00 – P4,000.00. If your point of disembarkation is the Manila Domestic Airport, you can take a cab or a bus from there to the LRT2 Station in Cubao and board the train to Santolan. The taxi fare from the airport is about P200.00 to P300.00 (one way), while the bus fare is less than P30.00 (one way). If your point of disembarkation is the Pier Area, you can take a jeepney or cab to the LRT2 Station in C.M. Recto Avenue in Manila and board the train for Santolan. The taxi fare from the Pier Area to the LRT2 Station is about P100.00-P150.00, while the jeepney fare is cheaper at P7.50 (one way).

Dumaguete to Antipolo and Back: To reach Antipolo from Dumaguete, you can fly from Dumaguete to Manila. Approximate cost of a round trip plane ticket is P4,000.00 – P5,000.00. From the Manila Domestic Airport, you can take a cab or a bus from to the LRT2 Station in Cubao and board the train to Santolan. The taxi fare from the airport is about P200.00 to P300.00 (one way), while the bus fare is less than P30.00 (one way).

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Baguio City: Summer Capital of the Philippines

August 22nd, 2014 · 9 Comments


BaguioThe City of Baguio is perched on a plateau 1,500 meters above sea level in the southern end of the Cordillera Mountain Ranges in the Province of Benguet about 250 kilometers north of Manila. Its pine covered slopes; the colorful flowers in its parks and open spaces; and, the crisp mountain breeze easily fits the idyllic setting of a romantic novel. The fresh and delightful air that is eight degrees cooler on the average than any place in the islands makes the city a perfect retreat from the sweltering heat of the Luzon lowlands. From March to May, thousands of visitors crowd into this upland city to cool off and enjoy the refreshing pine-scented breeze blowing in from the misty mountains.

In the early days this area was known as Kafagway which was inhabited by the Ibaloi and Kankaney tribes of the Cordilleras who have constantly driven away the Spanish colonists who have long coveted their upland home for its gold deposits. In 1846, the Spaniards finally gained a foothold by setting up a “commandancia” on the valley below, which they called La Trinidad and which was later to become the capital of Benguet Province.

When the Americans occupied the Philippines in 1900, they made the place accessible to jumping points in Pangasinan province and the Ilocos regions by carving the now-famous Kennon Road out of the granite mountainside. The new colonists proceeded to develop the place into a mining town and a recreational facility for U.S. servicemen. By 1903, the Americans had built the 695-hectare Camp John Hay and the Mansion House, which served as the summer residence of the American Governor-General. The succeeding year, Burnham Park was completed and named after Daniel H. Burnham, who master planned the development of most of the surrounding areas.

In a session held on June 1, 1903 at the higher end of what is now the famous Session Road, the Philippine Commission declared Baguio as the “Summer Capital of the Philippines.” And, on September 9, 1909, it was incorporated as a city by the Philippine Assembly. Today, Baguio is one of the premier first class urbanized cities in Northern Luzon and is the seat of government of the Cordillera Administrative Region. The name of the city came from the Ibaloi word “bagiw,” which meant “moss,” for the mossy plants and orchids that grew in abundance in the pine forests.

What to See in Baguio

Baguio City will never disappoint the visitor as it has probably the largest number of attractions packed in its 4,900-hectare area than any tourist destination in the Philippines. The wonderful thing about it is that the most popular tourist attractions are located near each other making the city one of the easiest places to explore considering the availability of inexpensive public transportation.

Mines View Park: Located near the Mansion House and Wright Park at the extreme northeast side of the city, Mines View Park is known for its spectacular view of Benguet’s gold and copper mines with the Cordillera Mountains as a backdrop. Today, a lot of houses have been constructed over the old mine sites and souvenir and silverworks stores abound by the park.

Baguio Botanical Garden: Also known as the Igorot Village, it showcases the native huts typical of the architecture of the Cordilleras and captures the cultural legacy and the proud ethnic spirit of the Igorot tribemen dressed in their traditional colorful costumes. It is officially named as the Botanical Gardens because it grows the pine seedlings and other flora used in the never-ending greening projects of the city and its environs.

Burnham Park: This thickly wooded park is the oldest in Baguio where one can contemplate the beauty of nature amidst its colorful flowers, the laughter of children frolicking and biking on its grounds and the languid sound of paddles on the water as small boats glide on the man-made lake.

Mount Santo Tomas: If you love being close to Mother Nature, trek up to Baguio’s highest peak, which offers a 360 degree view of the entire city and as far as the eye could see up to La Union Province below and the shimmering waters of the South China Sea beyond the horizon.

These tourist spots and places of interest are just a prelude to all of Nature’s splendor and other historical places that lie beyond the city limits because Baguio is also considered as the gateway to the wonders of Northern Luzon: The centuries old “Stairway to the Sky,” otherwise known as the Banaue Rice Terraces in Kalinga-Ifugao; the Kabayan Mummy Caves of Benguet; the famous Hundred Islands of Pangasinan; the beautiful beaches of La Union; the heritage houses and cultural relics of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur; and, the colorful culture of the proud tribes of the Cordilleras.

Where to Eat in Baguio

Just like many cities in the country and across the world, Baguio did not escape the encroachment of malls which host the many different western and oriental style fast food chains that have sprouted all over the Philippines. Sure, you can snag a seat in any of these joints and grab a bite to eat. But why come all the way to Baguio to eat burgers and fries or noodles and dimsum out of Styropor packs when you can very well turn your summer vacation into a memorable culinary experience at the following places:

Bliss Café: For an average price of P300.00, this food joint along Leonard Wood Road offers splendid vegetarian meals that its patrons swear do not taste like vegetables at all.

Cafe by the Ruins: Along Otek Street, the hungry visitor can grab a chair in this eatery and enjoy ethnic cuisine like mountain rice, native chicken and strawberry wine at a cost of about P350.00.

Eve’s Garden: Looking for this eatery that is nestled along Lamtang Road is an adventure in itself. But finding it and sampling its organic freshly picked lettuce will definitely make your trip—and the P550.00 price of set meals quite worthwhile.

Where to Stay in Baguio

Baguio is just about the only place where most hotels do not have to provide for air conditioning. All you have to do is open the windows of your hotel room and let the cool mountain breeze rush in and fill your room and lungs with clean, fresh air as you enjoy the panorama of pine trees gently swaying in the wind.

The following are many different types of visitors to this “Vacation City” and their likely accommodation preferences: Honeymooners looking for a more private and intimate setting where service is more personalized may consider staying in an inn; businessmen and convention delegates who follow a strict itinerary and don’t mind buying in-house all their food and drinks are perfect in a hotel; a large group of friends and family who prefer to whip up their own meals and barbeque cook outs are more suitable in so-called transient houses; and, backpackers and budget travelers who would be out of their quarters touring the city most of the time and would not mind sharing common facilities with other guests will love to stay in a pension house.

Calalily Pension House: This pension house has very affordable rates starting at P960.00 with cable TV, hot and cold shower and 24 hour security. It is just walking distance to the Cathedral, Burnham Park, Downtown Baguio and the City Market.

Calalily Pension House
Sandiko Street
Baguio City

Baguio Transient Houses: These are separate housing units ideal for a group of 4 or more people. The house with a private toilet and bath, TV and Ref can be leased for P1,500.00 per day.

Tel Nos.: (074) 304-2842; 423-0847
Cel. No.: (0917) 822-8160 (Rachel)

Microtel Inn & Suites: Staying in this Baguio Inn entitles you to the same international standard of cleanliness, safety, comfort and value provided by Microtel Inns all over the world. With rates starting at USD43.00, or P1,720.00 converted at current forex rates, guests will enjoy queen-sized beds, cable TV, air conditioning, IDD/ NDD telephone, Internet connectivity, built-in desk and furniture, full-sized bathrooms with hot and cold shower and radio clock.

Upper Session Road
Baguio City

Prince Plaza Hotel Baguio: Many conferences and meetings are held in the conference room of this hotel with the help of its friendly staff. All rooms have attached balconies that provide a panoramic view of the city. For a starting rate of USD60.00, or P2,400.00 converted at prevailing forex rates, guests will enjoy standard private bathroom with hot and cold shower, in-room movies, mini bar, radio, iron and iron board, writing desk and hair dryer.

17 Legarda Road
Baguio City

How to Get to Baguio

Manila to Baguio and Back: You can get to Baguio from Manila using either of the two modes depending on your budget and time:

1.Overland: If you are a budget traveler with more time in your hands and less money to spend, you can take the bus and enjoy the great scenery while making that overland trip. There are air conditioned buses that leave Manila for Baguio every hour seven days a week. The Philippine Rabbit, Dagupan Bus Lines and Victory Liner are just some of the popular transportation companies whose buses ply the Manila-Baguio route. A one-way ticket costs about P350.00 – 450.00 and travel time is six to seven hours.

2.By Air: If you are a busy businessman with less time and more money to spent, then by all means, take that plane trip to Baguio and save time. An Asian Spirit flight bound for Baguio leaves Manila daily at 9:45 AM. Approximate cost of the 50-minute flight is P2,100.00 – 2,300.00, one-way. You don’t have to worry about transport when you land at the Loakan Airport some 5 kilometers from Baguio City proper because there are a lot of taxi cabs waiting to pick up passengers right at the airport terminal. The taxi fare cost about P100.00 to P150.00.

Cebu to Baguio and Back: To reach Baguio from Cebu, you can either fly from Cebu to the Manila Domestic Airport in Pasay or sail from Cebu to Manila. The estimated cost of a round trip plane ticket is P6,000.00 – P7,000.00 while a round trip boat fare would cost about P3,000.00 – P4,000.00. Upon arrival, choose any of the two options above to get to Baguio from Manila.

Dumaguete to Baguio and Back: To reach Baguio from Dumaguete, you can fly from Dumaguete to the Manila Domestic Airport in Pasay City. Estimated cost of a round trip plane ticket is P4,000.00 – P5,000.00. Upon arrival, choose any of the two options mentioned above to get to Baguio from Manila.

→ 9 CommentsTags: Luzon

Muntinlupa: Emerald City of the Philippines

August 22nd, 2014 · 7 Comments


Muntinlupa MapWhat was once an agricultural town mostly devoted to cow pasture has metamorphosed into the new residential haven of Metro Manila. Muntinlupa is the southernmost city of Metro Manila bounded on the east by Laguna de Bay; on the southwest by the provinces of Laguna and Cavite; on the west by Las Piñas; on the northwest by Parañaque; and, on the north by Taguig City.

Owing to its general topography, which is somewhat hilly, this tiny poblacion was referred to by its inhabitants during the Spanish period as “monted de lupa,” a vernacular phrase meaning “hills” from which, many believed the name of Muntinlupa originated. Just a few decades ago, this place was at the receiving end of unfair jokes and bad press and has earned undue notoriety. The mere mention of the word “Muntinlupa” always brought to mind the chilling image of the New Bilibid Prison which is located within its jurisdiction. However, palpable progress has a way of changing for the better negative impressions created by the stigma of it being the home of hardened criminals.

During the last decade, the city has undergone rapid development particularly in its Alabang district. The Filinvest Corporate City and the Madrigal Business Center District which host the biggest and swankiest residential communities and business establishments have changed the face of Muntinlupa from a once sleepy town to a bustling modern metropolis. Some of the wealthiest and famous personalities that live in these classy villages include a former Philippine president, well-known show biz celebrities and even the prince of an oil-producing nation. Recently, it received the status of “Most Competitive and Improved City.” Like a precious stone plucked from the mining quarry in its raw form, then cut and polished to perfection, Muntinlupa City—the new glistening jewel of Metro Manila, is now referred to as the Emerald City of the Philippines.

What to See in Muntinlupa

Muntinlupa boasts of the Ayala Alabang Village which is the largest and cleanest exclusive residential subdivision in the country; Alabang Town Center along the Ayala-Alabang-Zapote Road; Festival Mall at the Filinvest Corporate City; and, Manuela Metropolis below the South Super Highway Flyover which are considered as some of the largest malls in the country that feature indoor theme parks.

Visitors who believe that the things to see in a modern city like Muntinlupa that has recently emerged from rural obscurity can only be found in its modern commercial districts and plush residential subdivisions. But for the more adventurous and curious visitor who had seen enough of modern malls and plush villages, the unique spots that define the city’s character and its past may prove a more interesting justification for their trip.

Ironically, this once-in-a-lifetime sightseeing experience can be found at the very place that has given the city its past notoriety—The New Bilibid Prison located at Barangay Poblacion. Hidden within the grounds of this sprawling 530–hectare state penitentiary reservation complex which is surprisingly peaceful and safe, are the following attractions?

Jamboree Lake: Said to be the country’s smallest natural lake, whose water and surrounding park are surprisingly clean.

Monument Hill: Located a few meters from the lakeshore is a mound with a cross that serves as the marker for the resting place of Eriberto Misa, a prison director during World War II who made a mark in history by initiating programs that made prison life more bearable.

Yamashita Shrine: A burial site for Japanese soldiers killed during World War II. General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the “Tiger of Malaya,” is said to have been buried in this place after he was executed for war crimes committed by Japanese troops in World War II.

Where to Eat in Muntinlupa

The best places to visit whenever you feel the urge to go on a shopping spree or a food trip are the modern and comfortable malls of Muntinlupa.

Gerry’s Grill: Located at Alabang Town Center, this food establishment is just the perfect place for the visitor who loves to feast on freshly grilled or cooked food on a budget of P200.00 per meal.

Cabalen: This restaurant can be found at the 3rd Floor of the Festival Mall. It features food from Pampanga like its famous native sausages and processed meats at a mid-range cost of P300.00 per meal. If you feel up to it, try its exotic snails cooked in coconut milk. A pricey appetizer in French cuisine cooked with garlic and parsley butter with an equally pricey sounding name—“escargot,” which simply means snail is very popular in European and North American fine dining. You can eat this delicacy with an Asian twist for a fraction of the cost at Cabalen.

Red Crab Seafood and Steaks: For P500.00 per meal, you can stuff yourself with its crowd drawer—different crab dishes cooked just right to tickle your taste buds from hot to gingery sweet and spicy flavors. A culinary experience to remember for first time visitors of this establishment located at the 2nd level, Cortes de las Palmas along Alabang-Zapote Road.

Where to Stay in Muntinlupa

Parque España Residence Hotel: Whether you are a well-traveled businessman or a leisure traveler, you will definitely fine in this hotel all the comforts, warmth and security which will make you feel that you have never left home at all. For a starting rate of USD70.00, or P2,800.00 converted at the prevailing forex rates, visitors will enjoy living and dining areas with complete dining facilities, cable TV, kitchen with complete cooking facilities, IDD/NDD telephone, broadband internet connectivity, mini bar and hot and cold shower.

5309 East Asia Drive, Filinvest Corporate City, Alabang
Muntinlupa City 1781, Philippines
Tel. Nos.: (632) 850-5847
Fax Nos.: (632) 850-5660
Email address:

Vivere Suites: Every room in this mid-range hotel features Asian elegance designed to provide for your comfort and convenience. Starting at USD120.00, or P4,800.00 converted at prevailing forex rates, each standard room is equipped with a living, dining and kitchen area aside from the usual bathroom and bedroom.

5102 Bridgeway Avenue
Filinvest Corporate City
Alabang, Muntinlupa City
Tel.No.: (632) 771-7777
Fax No.: (632) 771-0158

The Bellevue Manila: Located at the plush Filinvest Corporate City, this high rise hotel offers a wide range of recreational facilities and a fully equipped business center to meet the needs of both the leisure and business travelers. With rates starting at USD179.00.or P7,160.00 converted at current exchange rates, this 222 room high rise provides in-room fax, in-house movies, broadband internet connection, air-conditioning, telephone, mini bar, room safe, satellite TV, voice mail and tea/ coffee maker.

North Bridgeway, NorthGate
Cyberzone, Filinvest Corporate City
Alabang, Muntinlupa City
Tel. No.: 771-8181
Fax No.: 771-8282

How to Get to Muntinlupa

Manila to Muntinlupa and Back: Air-conditioned and non air-conditioned buses ply the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), which is the major route going to Muntinlupa City. Coming from Manila, you can catch the bus at the Taft Avenue corner Buendia Avenue station. Ask the bus conductor to remind you to get off the bus when it reaches Alabang. Traffic is sometimes very heavy at the SLEX and the trip could take about two hours. The bus ride should not cost more than P100.00.

Cebu to Muntinlupa and Back: To reach Muntinlupa from Cebu, you can either fly from Cebu to the Manila Domestic Airport in Pasay or sail from Cebu to Manila. Approximate cost of a round trip plane ticket is P4,000.00 – P5,000.00 while a round trip boat fare is approximately P3,000.00 – P4,000.00. From your point of disembarkation, you can take a jeepney or taxi cab to the bus station in Taft Avenue corner Buendia Avenue and board the bus bound for Cabuyao, Laguna and ask the bus conductor to let you off at Alabang. The taxi fare to the bus station costs about P250.00-P300.00 while the bus trip should not cost more than P100.00.
Dumaguete to Muntinlupa and Back: To reach Muntinlupa from Dumaguete, you can fly from Dumaguete to the Manila Domestic Airport in Pasay. Approximate cost of a round trip plane ticket is P4,000.00 – P5,000.00. From the airport, you can take a taxi cab to the bus station in Taft Avenue corner Buendia Avenue and board the bus bound for Cabuyao, Laguna and ask the bus conductor to let you off at Alabang. The taxi fare to the bus station costs about P250.00-P300.00 while the bus trip should not cost more than P100.00.

→ 7 CommentsTags: Metro Manila

Business Options for Expats in the Philippines

August 22nd, 2014 · 1 Comment

The Philippines is a good option for foreigners who seek comfort lifestyle in a country apart from their own. The beautiful country with the most pristine waters, wonderfully-shaped mountains, amazingly-designed structures, and the friendliest locals can easily embrace a foreigner tightly.

Business is especially good in a Philippine setting. If you want to have a business of your own there, the country would be able to offer you a bunch of options, given you have the budget for it. The Philippines is very friendly to independent businessmen who are looking for extra income out of their funds. It offers versatile investment opportunities that would fit to anyone’s budget and preference.

Before taking the leap in doing business in the country, make sure that you have considered all the possible factors that may get in the way of your success. There are specific laws that govern expats like you. You must read and understand all those so you know where to start. Doing something that is outlawed could be very dangerous for you and your properties.

Foreigners looking for local jobs in the Philippines could find a difficult time. There are not enough jobs for the qualified locals that is why the country’s government is quite strict in allowing foreigners to creep in. Aside from that fact, compensation is very low in the Philippines compared to the other countries.

The best way to earn while enjoying the Filipino way of life is building a business of your own. There are currently a lot of industries booming in the country. You just need to make your choice. Doing business about something that you care about is the best way to do it. Start by thinking about your guilty pleasures and your interests. From there, you could pick up ideas on the most ideal business that you think will click and will give you the career satisfaction that you needed. International franchises and export opportunities are also available in the Philippines. If you want to closely to your home country, you could well do so by taking those alternatives.

Any business could be profitable in the Philippines if you know how to make it one. Aside from your excellent business skills, you will need a profound knowledge about the country to get to the best industry that you must be in. Study the Filipino lifestyle well enough to get ideas on how to make good business there. You have lots of options in your hands. Your only limitation lies in your skills and your budget capital as well.

→ 1 CommentTags: Expats