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Vigan: A Philippine Heritage City

April 16th, 2014 · 3 Comments

Vigan

ViganAs you gaze at the massive 16th century brick and plaster houses with red-tiled roofs and imposing doorways that line the narrow cobblestone street, a compelling sense of history overwhelms you. While a horse-drawn calesa clickety-clacks down the street and friendly smiling faces peer out the sliding capiz windows and ventanillas, you realize that you are in Vigan—the capital of Ilocos Sur and the only surviving colonial town in the Philippines.

This quaint little city lies along the western seaboard of Northern Luzon 408 kilometers north of Manila. It is bounded on the south by the Municipality of Caoayan; on the north by the Municipality of Bantay; on the east by the Municipality of Santa; on the west by the Municipality of Sta. Catalina; and, on the southwest by the China Sea.

The centuries-old houses, churches, plazas, public buildings and cobblestone-paved streets of Vigan is a living, breathing heritage of the country’s colonial past excellently preserved for posterity to behold. Patterned after the design of the Walled City of Intramuros, Vigan was established in 1572 by Juan de Salcedo. It was later called Ciudad Fernandina in honor of Prince Ferdinand, the son of King Philip II of Spain, and became the seat of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia.

The city’s heritage structures which retained much of the patina of Spanish colonial architecture have remarkably escaped the ravages of World War II in the Philippines. As you go around in this unique Northern Luzon city, its colorful colonial past is evident everywhere rightfully earning its inclusion in the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List in December 1999.

The name of this World Heritage City was derived from the Ilocano word “kabiga-an,” which refers to the “biga” plant or alocadia indica that once grew in abundance along the banks of the Abra River where Vigan began as an important coastal trading post populated mostly by Chinese settlers.

What to See in Vigan

Vigan is a small place and it will not take you more than a day to do the rounds of the city’s attractions. If you are a history buff you will definitely enjoy checking out the city’s ancestral houses, religious and public edifices, squares and other historical landmarks built during the Spanish colonial period that fuses Oriental design with European colonial architecture. But it is not only these classic structures of bricks, stones, tiles and hardwood that have been well-preserved. The industrious people of Vigan have also remained steadfast to their forebear’s time-honored crafts of burnay making (pottery) and inabel (hand loom weaving). For about P150.00, you can travel back in time on board a horse-drawn calesa the way the locals did it during the Spanish colonial period and visit heritage sites like:

Crisologo Street: Passing through this cobblestone-paved street is like being transported back to the Spanish era sans the dreaded Guardia Civil. Most of the city’s heritage houses are clustered here. If you wish, you can climb down your calesa, take a couple of video or still shots and go souvenir shopping at the many stores that line the street.

Arzobizpado: This arzobizpado, or archbishop’s palace, which was built in 1783 is the only surviving 18th century arzobizpado in the entire country. In 1898, it served as the headquarters of General Emilio Aguinaldo and was taken over in the succeeding year by the invading American colonizers under Col. James Parker. This ancient religious site features a throne room, religious paraphernalia gathered from different colonial churches all over province and priceless ecclesiastical artifacts.

Plaza Burgos: Take a relaxing stroll at the Plaza Burgos, which was named after the martyred Filipino priest, Father Jose P. Burgos. As you contemplate in the clean surroundings and marvel at the 100-year old Bell Tower of nearby Vigan Cathedral, you can munch on a crispy empanada fresh off the frying pan that you can buy for about P25.00 from any of the kiosks that sell the delicacy at the plaza.

Where to Eat in Vigan

When in Vigan, see the sights, meet the locals and taste its culinary delights. Miss one these and you go home with an incomplete tour experience. Every place has its own flavors and delicacies to offer the intrepid traveler. Vigan is no different with its spicy longaniza, crispy bagnet, pinakbet and dinengdeng that are the specialties of almost any restaurant in town. If you have a sweet tooth, pass by the Public Market and buy yourself local sweets like dila-dila, sinambong, patupat and dudol. You will never feel the pangs of hunger when you take a long walk down by Plaza Burgos because the town’s famed crispy okoy and empanadas served with mild Ilocos vinegar are as ubiquitous as burgers and fries.

Grandpa’s Inn: A whiff of the irresistible aroma of Vigan longaniza sizzling on the frying pan will surely make you feel hungry enough to eat a horse. And if you follow the scent, your feet will likely bring you to the doorsteps of Grandpa’s Inn, a cozy Spanish style restaurant along Bonifacio Street that serves well-known Ilocano delicacies at very affordable prices. Quickly grab a seat and order the specialty of the house: Vigan longaniza served with atsara (pickled veggies) is priced at P90.00, which is enough for two people; and, for the same amount of serving, an order of bagnet (crispy fried pork) and a side dish of freshly plucked tomatoes with fish bagoong (salted fish paste) will cost you only P150.00. When the platter of steaming hot rice is served with your order, brace yourself for the most delightful culinary experience of your life.

Café Leona: One of the more popular eateries in city, Café Leona is a quaint old house sitting along Crisologo Street with a cozy, nice ambiance. Try its delicious version of guinisang mongo which goes quite well with the longaniza specialty of Ilocandia served with tomatoes and bagoong. Bon apetit!

Café Uno-Vigan: A charming little coffee shop that specializes in pastries, pasta, beverages and local dishes. If you’re looking for a place to have some light snacks, why not try some of its pancakes and a pot of healthy green tea to wash it down with. But if you’re spoiling for heavier grub, a serving of steaming pinakbet and crispy bagnet will be a meal you’ll never forget.

Where to Stay in Vigan

Wait till your folks back home hear that you stayed in a real 16th century house and dozed off to dreamland in its antique four poster canopy bed that evoked vivid reveries of Spanish colonial Vigan. This is not wishful thinking but a delightful reality because many ancestral houses in the city were actually turned into cozy hotels and pensiones to address the billeting requirements of its growing number of visitors.

Vigan Hotel: This elegant Spanish era mansion which was inherited by Mr. Oscar Villanueva from his forebears is one of Ilocandia’s pride and treasures. Converted into a hotel fifty years ago this 18th century heritage house is one of the town’s better known landmarks that offers comfortable accommodations at unbelievably low prices. Equipped with cable TV, DVD players and 24/7 wi-fi Internet connectivity, its double bed rooms are offered at an unbelievably low price of P795.00.

P. Burgos Street
Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
Tel. No. : (+6377) 722-1906
CelPhone : (+63915) 549-8763
Email : viganhtl@digitelone.com

Villa Angela: Built in 1870 by Gobernadorcillo Agapito Florendo y Bonifacio, this heritage house turned hotel is a depository of generations of family memorabilia and its rooms are filled with antique furniture seen only in ancient colonial mansions. Its standard rooms feature air conditioning, cable TV and private toilet and bath. A double bed room is yours for the night for only P1,000.00.

Website: http://www.villangela.com/
26 Quirino Blvd.
Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
Telefax : (077) 722-2914
Email : info@villangela.com

Cordillera Inn: Another well-preserved ancestral Vigan home right in the heart of the city that offers a cozy, warm atmosphere that guarantees a rewarding and enjoyable stay. With rates starting at P1,500.00, guests will enjoy standard rooms with air conditioning, hot and cold water, TV and mini bar.

Mena Crisologo Street
Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
Tel. No. : (077) 722-2727

How to Get to Vigan

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

1. Overland: Backpackers and budget travelers will enjoy taking that comfortable nine-hour overland trip because it’s a great opportunity to ogle at the countryside scenery while the bus rolls northward. There are air conditioned buses that leave Manila stations on scheduled runs to Vigan such as Dominion and the Philippine Rabbit Bus Line. A one-way ticket costs about P500.00 – P550.00. Buses like Partas Bus Co. might cost a bit more because its coaches have only three seats across and have better reclining positions.

2. By Air: If you are on a tight schedule and don’t have the luxury of time to take that overland trip, then it’s perfectly all right for you to fly to Ilocandia instead. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific service the Laoag International Airport thrice a week. Approximate cost of the 70-minute flight is P3,000 (one-way). Public transport is available for that 80-kilometer trip from Laoag International Airport to Vigan. A comfortable Partas air conditioned bus is recommended for that one-a-half hour ride which will cost you about P150.00 (one way).

Cebu to Vigan and Back: To reach Vigan from Cebu, you can either fly from Cebu to the Manila Domestic Airport in Pasay or sail from Cebu to Manila. The cost of a round trip plane ticket is approximately P4,000.00 – P5,000.00. On the other hand, 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 Vigan from Manila.

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

→ 3 CommentsTags: Luzon

How to Find a Place to Stay when Moving to the Philippines

April 16th, 2014 · 7 Comments

It can be a great challenge for an expatriate to settle in the Philippines. Most expatriates tend to have an overwhelming feeling being in the country for the first time. The expatriate will be experiencing many adjustments particularly to the weather. There are also many people in the Philippines and a lot of traffic as well. However many expatriates have called the Philippines their home as well.

Most expatriates feel that the single primary concern that they are worried about is the place where they would live. The best solution is to find a temporary shelter. There are many hotels in the Philippines particularly in Manila that are also leased for short terms. There are many apartments that are affordable as well. These days one can find towering condominiums that offer cheaper rental rates for anyone.

The arrival of the shipment of the belongings of the expatriate moving in the Philippines usually takes a while and depends on where the expatriate came from. If he came from an Eastern state of the US the shipment of his things can take seven weeks or more before finally arriving in the country. It is a good option to choose a temporary house fully furnished already since the shipment will take some time. The shipment of the expatriate’s belongings will still be checked at customs in the Philippines which lasts a couple of weeks before it is cleared to be checked out. The company where an expatriate works for usually assigns a person to help the expatriate in this process.

Each expatriate who has lived in the Philippines has a different story of moving to the Philippines however one thing is usually common that they had to stay in a temporary house for a while. Being in a temporary house like a hotel will give much convenience to the expatriate and their family. During the stay in the temporary house the expatriate can hunt for a house they intend to stay longer in. The expatriate could request for a renovation besides waiting for the customs to clear their belongings.

Expatriates usually experience a period of transition lasting for months. The hotel is usually a good place to adjust for the first few weeks for the whole family since the people in the hotel can give good service and assistance. There are a few reminders before finally choosing a temporary house:

1.Make sure that the house is an ideal place for the whole family.

2.Make sure that it fits your budget. There is a wide choice of hotels in the Philippines.

3.Consider a location near to the international school for your children.

4.Consider a location near your office and other landmarks like a hospital or a shopping mall.

→ 7 CommentsTags: Expats

Pasig: From Bucolic Town to Boom City

April 16th, 2014 · 3 Comments

Pasig City

pasig city mapLocated on the southeastern tip of the great river of lore and legend after which it was named, Pasig City is bounded on the west by Mandaluyong City and Quezon City; on the east by the Municipality of Cainta; on the south by Makati City, Taguig City and Pateros; and, on the north by Marikina City.

Bodies of water nurture life and civilization because it provides for man’s food and quenches his thirst, facilitates his mobility and irrigates his fields. In the early days, the Pasig River was teeming with life not only beneath its cool crystalline waters but along its fertile banks as well where flourishing settlements have taken root. Pasig City residents who are native to the area are Tagalogs who trace their roots to settlers from Cainta and Taytay and other neighboring eastern towns that thrived even before the coming of the Spanish colonists. These early settlers called themselves “taga-ilog,” which generally means “river people,” and was later contracted to “Tagalog.” Most ancient cultural centers of the Tagalog regions were founded on river banks or near the delta where the mouth of the river meets the sea. Present day Tagalogs refer to a cultural group in areas covering Regions III, IV and the National Capital Region who spoke a language on which Filipino is now based.

Determining the origin of the city’s name invariably required sifting through the many stories and legends surrounding the mighty Pasig River after which it was named. The most persuasive theory was advanced by Dr. Jose Villa Panganiban a noted linguist and former director of the Institute of National Language who stated that the word “pasig” is an ancient Sanskrit term that referred to a “river that flowed from one body of water to another.” Such is the case of Pasig River, which made it an important travel route from Laguna de Bay to Manila Bay. Because of their strategic locations, riverine communities like Manila and Pasig were centers of trade and commerce in pre-Hispanic Philippines, but it was also precisely because of this that they were the focal points of military interest and conflicts. While the river bustled with activity, life in the community that sprawled beside it was pleasant, idyllic and serene.

Because of its excellent location and access to major transport routes such as the Pasig River and the EDSA beltway, presence of adequate facilities and utilities, vital infrastructures and a bottomless supply of skilled and literate workforce, this once bucolic town is now one of the country’s fastest rising commercial and industrial cities in Metro Manila. The boom started with the establishment of the Asian Development Bank headquarters in the city followed by other financial institutions and multinational companies. What was once a lush green landscape is now a horizon of skyscrapers, huge malls and commercial complexes such as Ortigas Center, a fast growing business district that is giving the Ayala Center in Makati a run for its money. Today, Pasig City offers a healthy mix of business, recreational and leisure experience to visitors as it slowly regains its past glory of being the hub of trade and commerce of Metro Manila.

What to See in Pasig City

Even while the city hums with commercial and industrial activities, its attractions offer the visitor some quite and engaging moments to look back and reflect on a colorful time of its past when the city was young and life was easy and carefree.

Tiendesitas: Located along Ortigas Avenue at the corner of C5 Road, this novelty shopping complex with a unique Maranao architectural design is a must-see attraction for visitors. True to the spirit of its name, which means “little stores,” Tiendesitas is a 3-hectare village composed of 450 shops selling products from all over the Philippines. Here, you would find everything under the sun from delicious specialty food, clothing and fashion accessories to antiques and souvenir items and even pets. For the tired and hungry shopper, there is even a huge area within the complex that provides inexpensive meals and entertainment by performers on stage. To complete the rustic, native ambiance, a horse carriage ride gives the visitor the option to go back in time. This is a place that you definitely would not want to miss during your trip to Pasig.

Doña Geronima’s Cave: Located in Barangay Pineda, this mysterious cavern continues to baffle residents and commuters in the area. Legend has it that a generous enchantress lived in this cave whose narrow passages led up the mountain where a mansion built for her by her loved one is located. This mystic cave and its enchanted resident has been the subject of an anecdote by the Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal in his famous novel, “El Filibusterismo.”

Ang Bahay na Tisa: Located at the west end of P. Gomez Street in Barangay San Jose, this 162-year old stone house of Spanish architecture is owned by the Tech family and is often used as a venue for art shows and cultural forums. More important than its elegant design and robust build, this structure was a secret witness and passive participant in historic events that unfolded in the past. Within the 65-centimeter thick walls of this 500 square meter structure, Katipunan patriots held secret meetings during the Philippine Revolution against Spain and sheltered Filipino guerilla freedom fighters forty-five years later during the Japanese occupation of the country.

Where to Eat in Pasig City

Barcino Gourmet: In this cozy little wine and tapas bar located at City Golf Plaza along Julia Vargas Avenue, you can eat and drink excellent wine for as long as you want just like the Spaniards do during their heyday in the country. Home cooked Spanish cuisine such as paella, callos and fabada come at a very reasonable price. On your next visit to Pasig, why not try its tapas and premium aged wine.

Heat: Situated in the swanky EDSA Shangri-la Manila Garden Way in Ortigas Center, this restaurant has 20 distinct open cooking theaters with chefs preparing specialties ala minute. Various stations laden with not too pricey Oriental and Western food will surely satisfy even the most fickle of taste buds. Salmon sa miso and lechon are just some of the recommended specialties for the first timer.

Paparazzi: If you are craving for Italian food, then why not try this joint located also at EDSA Shangri-la Manila whose traditional Italian dishes suits the Filipino palate quite well. You can start your course with Golden Scallop Salad then order the Manila Baby Lobster Linguine or other signature dishes such as fried calamari, grilled Portobello mushrooms or pan fried sea bass. You would think that the price of the food is a bit on the high side, but when you get to taste these specialties, you’d realize that they are worth the price on the menu.

Where to Stay in Pasig City

For the visitor or the resident, Pasig City is a good place to stay in. Since the city plays host to business and financial activities, it must necessarily have premium quality yet very affordable hotels such as:

The Richmonde Hotel: Located at the very heart of Ortigas Center, this plush hotel is just a few minutes away from financial institutions, blue-chip corporations, premier academic institutions and shopping and recreational centers. With rates starting at USD90.00 or P3,600.00 converted at prevailing forex rates, guests are entitled to air conditioning, multi-function telephone system, cable TV, Internet connectivity, mini bar, hair dryer, coffee/tea maker, and alarm clock.

Website: http://www.richmondehotel.com/
21 San Miguel Avenue
Ortigas Center, Pasig City 1600
Metro Manila, Philippines

Astoria Plaza Suites: This 35-storey high rise hotel’s well-appointed rooms are just perfect for the business and leisure traveler wanting to be at the center of all things exciting and interesting in the city. With rates starting at USD83.00 or P3,320.00 converted at current forex rates, guests will enjoy air conditioning, two twin single beds or one queen sized bed, audio/ video entry phone, IDD/NDD telephone, DVD player, Cable TV, room safe, coffee/ tea maker and ref.

Website: http://www.astoriaplazasuites.com/
15 J. Escriva Drive
Ortigas Business District
Pasig City
Tel. No. (+632) 687-1111
Fax No. (+632) 910-0370

Stables Guesthouse: This B&B located in a gated, well-secured subdivision in the city is just right for budget travelers seeking accommodations just 15 minutes from the business district, commercial and shopping centers, malls and the MRT trains and major transport routes. With rates starting at P1,150.00, travelers are entitled to inside and outside living room, dining area, a small library, TV/music and home theater room, a full kitchen and automatic washing machine.

1 Kariktan St.,
Kawilihan Village
Bagong Ilog, Pasig City
Tel. Nos. (063)534-0963 or 671-4520

How to Get to Pasig City

Manila to Pasig and Back: The Metro Rail Transit (MRT) is the fastest and most economical way to get from Manila to Pasig. Take a train bound for Quezon City at the MRT station in C.M. Recto Avenue. Get off at the MRT station in Cubao and hop into another train bound for Makati. Alight at the MRT station in Shaw Blvd. in Mandaluyong then just cross EDSA to get to the Pasig side of the Ortigas Center. The entire trip should take less than one hour and will cost less than P50.00. Alternatively, you can ride on a jeepney from T.M. Kalaw in Manila with a Quiapo signboard. Get off at Quiapo and flag another jeepney with a Pasig signboard. The jeepney rides should cost not more than P50.00.

Cebu to Pasig and Back: To reach Pasig 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. If you disembark at the Manila Domestic Airport, you can hop into a taxi cab or take the jeepney to the MRT station in Baclaran and board the train bound for the Shaw Blvd. station in Pasig. If your point of disembarkation is the Pier Area in Manila, you can ride on a jeepney or cab to the LRT-1 station in Rizal Avenue then take the train going to Baclaran in Parañaque. Once there hop on the train going to Shaw Blvd. station in Pasig. The taxi fare from the Pier Area to the LRT-1 station should cost you only about P100.00-P150.00, while the jeepney ride will be cheaper at P7.50 (one way). The train tickets, on the other hand, are less than P50.00.

Dumaguete to Pasig and Back: To reach Pasig from Dumaguete, you can fly from Dumaguete to the Manila Domestic Airport in Pasay City. From the airport, flag a taxi cab or a jeepney bound for the MRT station in Baclaran then board the train going to Shaw Blvd. in Pasig. Approximate cost of a round trip plane ticket is P4,000.00 – P5,000.00. The taxi fare will cost about P150.00 while the train ride to Pasig City is less than P30.00.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Metro Manila

Quezon City: “Hollywood of the Philippines”

April 16th, 2014 · 3 Comments

Quezon City: “Hollywood of the Philippines”

Quezon City

quezon city mapA sprawling land of 16,620 hectares of gently rolling hills straddling the Guadalupe plateau, Quezon City comprises the biggest portion of Metro Manila and is the second largest city in the country next to Davao City in Mindanao. It is bounded by the City of Manila on the southwest; Marikina and Pasig cities on the southeast; San Juan and Mandaluyong cities on the south; and, Caloocan and Valenzuela cities on the west and nortwest. Just across the Marilao River, lies San Jose del Monte City in the Province of Bulacan and to the east are the Municipalities of Rodriguez and San Mateo in the Province of Rizal.

Few would perhaps argue that it was here where the Filipino nation state was born. Barangay Bahay Toro in the Tandang Sora District of this wide expanse of rolling hills is the historic site of the “Cry of Pugad Lawin.” This was a defining moment in Philippine history when a thousand Katipunan patriots led by Andres Bonifacio declared on August 23, 1896 their rebellion against the Spanish colonial government. It was perhaps because of this milestone in its journey from colony to sovereign nation that one great Filipino leader dreamed of building the country’s capital city on these hills. The Quezon City Charter lapsed into law on October 12, 1939, and on July 17, 1948, it was proclaimed by Republic Act No. 333 as the capital of the Philippines–finally fulfilling the dream of President Manuel L. Quezon, in whose honor the city was named. But twenty-eight years later, on June 24, 1976, President Ferdinand Marcos declared the City of Manila as the new capital city by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 940.

In the ensuing years, the verdant pastures and rolling hills gradually gave way to multi-storey buildings, tree-lined boulevards, spacious parks, entertainment centers and commercial areas popular with shoppers all over the metropolis. More than half of the city’s total land area had been developed for residential purposes. This modern metropolis was dubbed as “The Hollywood of the Philippines” because of its distinction of being the enclave of TV and broadcast networks and film companies that churn out TV shows, movies and music.

What to See in Quezon City

Because it is categorized as a highly urbanized city, no one would ever imagine that this modern neon-lighted metropolis would harbor a slice of Nature right in its bosom. Situated near the Quezon Memorial Circle is the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Nature Center, an 80-hectare complex of forest cover, lagoon, mini zoo, craft village and a fishing village. The various specimens of flora and fauna including the world famous monkey-eating eagle will certainly appeal to the nature tripper in you.

But what is particularly interesting about Quezon City is its people. While it has a cosmopolitan culture, lifestyle is surprisingly fresh, easy and warm, and not quite what would be expected of the usual elite urban setting where the social temperament is more reserved and laid back.

What better way is there for first time visitors than to get to know the paradox of urbanites with rustic charm. So, toss your cares away; let your hair down and meet people; take walks around the city; explore its huge malls; go to nearby cafes and bars where young professionals flock to relax and enjoy the vibrant nightlife; and, be hip in its tourist belts. Up close and personal, you will view both the people and the city through rose-colored glasses and love every minute of it. You can best see and do all these at the following places:

Eastwood City Business Center: It is one of the country’s newest and spankiest commercial area located along the southeasthern corner of the city in the Libis District. Be sure to be here starting at dusk to witness the serious businesslike mood magically transform into a jovial, care-free atmosphere. The open air restaurants and coffee shops are great venues for drinking and dining al fresco among the imposing office and residential skyscrapers while listening to outdoor band music.

Tomas Morato-West-Timog-Quezon Avenue Tourist Belt: This cluster of avenues in the Kamuning District is known for its night entertainment. Disco houses, night clubs, karaoke joints, and elegant restaurants are all found here. If you are the adventurous type looking for novelty entertainment, try Zirkoh or Klownz along the Quezon Avenue stretch. These popular comedy bars are co-owned by showbiz personalities Allan K, Ai-Ai de Las Alas and others who sing on stage, run gags, interview, rib and make fun of people in the audience, and ask them to come up on stage and sing with them. Visit these joints with one caveat—remember not to take the jokes and ribbing personally, because these are done in good humor and spirit.

Araneta Center: Located in the Cubao District, this busy area that is often compared to Madison Square in New York City is the focal point of business activities in the city. Clustered here are all kinds of establishments that you can imagine like gigantic supermarkets and department stores, novelty boutiques, restaurants, theaters, banks and other financial institutions. Some of the biggest and spankiest malls and stores can be found here such as Gateway, Ali Mall, Farmer’s Plaza, Rustan’s and Shopwise. At the heart of this commercial complex is the famous “Big Dome,” the Araneta Coliseum.

University of the Philippines: The city is a center of learning as students from all over the country flock to its top-notch educational institutions which produced many of the country’s best leaders, artists, writers and professionals. Foremost among these is the main campus of the University of the Philippines in Diliman District. Established in 1908, this state-owned institute of higher learning is considered the finest in this particular region of the world. Try a rejuvinating morning stroll amidst the towering ancient acacia trees in this sprawling 450-hectare educational institution as you contemplate the political and social dynamics of the nation that young minds are dissecting within the halls, corridors and rooms of this premier university.

Where to Eat in Quezon City

You will never run out of places to grab a bite to eat when you are in a city that never sleeps; and where fast food chains and restaurants with specialties ranging from fine dining to budget meals dot the busy landscape.

Café Ten Titas: If you feel the pangs of hunger while you’re at the Araneta Center, nab a seat at Café Ten Titas located on the 3rd Floor of the Gateway Mall. The name derives from the ten aunts of Chef Florabel Co who co-owns the place with Marvin Agustin, an award-winning Filipino actor. For about P220.00 you can sink your teeth on its Bangus Belly Ala Kiev drenched in melting smoke-flavored ooze of cheddar cheese. And, if you are lucky enough, you may even bump into the famous actor and invite him over at you table for a chat.

PenPen: If you’re craving for Filipino comfort food and you happen to be cruising along the Tomas Morato tourist strip from E. Rodriguez Avenue, take a left turn at Castor Street and discover PenPen. This hole-in-the-wall eatery offers quick and filling meals that won’t even dent your wallet. This homey joint is owned by Chupsie Medina who runs it with the help of her son, Ping Medina, an indie film actor and son of veteran actor Pen Medina. For only P75.00, you can try one of its gourmet-cooked dishes like the saucy and thick Bicol Express laden with pork chunks and chili serve with steaming rice.

Gerry’s Grill: If you and your buddies would like to grab a bite to eat before checking out the Eastwood night life, you may want to step into Gerry’s Grill located along C-5 Road right in front of the Eastwood City entrance. The grub is good, complemented by the sporty, outdoor ambiance of the place reminiscent of an outdoor resort. You’ve never really been to Gerry’s unless you tried its well-known Grilled Squid, Crispy Tadyang or the more exotic Ginataang Kuhol.

Where to Stay in Quezon City

There are dozens of hotels spread out in the city, but the following mid-range priced accomodations are conveniently located and accesible to commercial and tourist areas:

Sulo Hotel: Located along Matalino Road in Diliman, this well-known hotel has five-star refinements and rates start at USD 53.00, or P2,120.00 converted at current exchange rates. Its basic amenities are a swimming pool and spa, room airconditioning, ref, telephone, cable/satellite TV, maid service, coffee maker and free newspapers.

The Garden Heights Condotel: Located at 269 E. Rodriguez Avenue a short walk from the Saint Luke’s Medical Center and Trinity College, this imposing structure dominates the skyline and offers a majectic view of Metro Manila. A short distance away is the Tomas Morato-Timog-West Avenue Tourist Belt. With rooms rates starting at USD48.00, or P1,920.00 converted at current exchange rates, guests will enjoy airconditioned rooms with complete kitchen, dining and living room facilities, cable TV, hot and cold water, IDD telephone and daily housekeeping service.

Kabayan Hotel: Conveniently located at Saint Mary Street corner Aurora Boulevard in Cubao District within spitting distance from the bustling Araneta Center. Room rates start at USD43.00, or P1,720.00 converted at current exchange rates and guests enjoy basic amenities like queen-sized and 1 single bed, airconditioning, mini-bar, TV, telephone, bedside control panel, private toilet and bath, hot and cold water.

How to Get to Quezon City

Manila to Quezon City and Back: There are two approaches to Quezon City from Manila City Hall. The first is through the Magsaysay Avenue-Aurora Boulevard route via Ayala Bridge and the second is through the Quezon Boulevard-Espana-E. Rodriguez Avenue route via Quiapo Bridge. The modes of transportation plying both routes are buses, jeepneys and cabs. A portion of the Magsaysay Ave.-Aurora Blvd. route is serviced by the Metro Rail Transit system starting from the Legarda Street-C.Recto Avenue junction in Manila all the way up to the Cubao MRT Station.

Cebu to Quezon City and Back: To reach Quezon City from Cebu, you can either fly or sail from Cebu to Manila then take a bus or cab to Quezon City. Approximate cost of a round trip plane ticket is P6,000.00 – P7,000.00 while a round trip boat fare is about P3,000.00 – P4,000.00. After you disembark at the Manila Domestic Airport or Pier area, you can take a cab, which will cost about P200.00 to P300.00 (one way). If you are not in a hurry, from your point of disembarkation, you can hop on a bus, jeepney or MRT which will take you to Quezon City for less than P30.00 (one way).

Dumaguete to Quezon City and Back: To reach Quezon City from Dumaguete, you can fly from Dumaguete to Manila then take a bus or cab to Quezon City. Approximate cost of a round trip plane ticket is P4,000.00 – P5,000.00. After you disembark at the Manila Domestic Airport, you can take a cab to Quezon City, which will cost about P200.00 to P300.00 (one way). But if you have less money and more time to spend, you can hop on a bus, jeepney or MRT which will take you to Quezon City for less than P30.00 (one way).

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Tourist Spots & Stops in Tagaytay City Philippines

April 15th, 2014 · 12 Comments

Tagaytay City, about 60 kms south of Manila, the Philippine capital is one of the prime tourist spots in the Philippines. Up to the late 1990s, people came mainly for Tagaytay’s year-round cool climate and Taal Volcano, which, surrounded by the blue waters of Taal Lake and framed by lush mountains is quite a breathtaking vision.

There were no other sites at that time except for Picnic Grove – a picnic and horseback riding site, Palace in the Sky – abandoned mansion of deposed Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos and Halfway – a mini-zoo. Dining was confined to Mushroom Burger, Taal Vista Hotel (the only hotel in the area at that time) and hole in the wall restos offering “bulalo” (boiled beef shank with bone marrow).

In 2000 under a younger administration, Tagaytay’s tourism got a boost by welcoming new establishments and franchises.

Foremost is the exclusive Highlands in Tagaytay’s northern part where golf, cable cars and world-class dining and accommodation can be enjoyed by availing of membership starting at P600, 000.00. It is an ideal site for weddings and conventions. Less expensive alternatives are Tagaytay Convention Center, Royale Tagaytay and Phinma. Mid-priced hotels like Bed & Breakfast, Days, Hotel Dominique and Royal Parc are scattered in the area. There are plenty of budget rooms and picnic huts for less than a thousand pesos.

Transportation is never a problem as busses ply the Manila-Tagaytay route 24 hours.

For fine dining there’s Antonio’s (seats must be reserved at least a month before) located farther south on the way to Batangas City, Carlos Restorante which offers Spanish cuisine and Aurelio’s, famed for its steaks. Those who prefer native Philippine dishes like “sinigang” and “kare-kare” (variations of beef and pork preparations) have a wider selection of reasonably priced restaurants in the main road – Dencio’s, LZM, RSM, Leslie’s, and Josephine’s. In the same strip, a horseback riding facility is available in Viewsite’s ranch-inspired surroundings. Beside it is Taalena, where diners get to be serenaded by a string quartet. Fast food chains like Jollibee, McDonalds and Chowking coffee shops, pizza parlors and delicacy stores also abound.

The health conscious will enjoy Nurture Spa and Sonia’s Garden where message therapy is offered side by side with organic food.

Commerce is thriving with the presence of the country’s premiere banks, telecom companies, beauty salons and branches of government agencies. Students and employees from nearby towns flock here for the retreat houses tucked in the more inconspicuous areas of the city.

At night, the main streets are lined with multi-colored lamps. Live bands perform daily in Café Lupe, G-point, Chandler’s, Casino Filipino, among other bars and cafes.

Yet despite its modernization, Tagaytay City has managed to preserve its picturesque countryside ambiance. In fact, all establishments are prevented to erect anything that will obstruct the views. It’s a must-see spot that has a bit of something for everybody.

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Mandaluyong: “The New Tiger City of Metro Manila”

April 15th, 2014 · 3 Comments

Mandaluyong

Mandaluyong MapLying on a 2,600-hectare heart-shaped piece of land, Mandaluyong is located just seven kilometers southeast of the City of Manila and eight kilometers west of Pasig City. It is bordered to the northeast by Quezon City, to the south by Makati City and to the northwest by San Juan.

In 1300 A.D., this place used to form part of the Kingdom of Sapa of the Majapahit Empire based in East Java. In 1470, it expanded to become the Kingdom of Namayan, whose influence extended to most of the 17 cities and municipalities that comprise Metro Manila today. Mandaluyong was formally established by the Spanish colonists in 1841 and named as the town of San Felipe Neri in honor of the Patron Saint of Rome.

Mandaluyong ostensibly got its present name from its rolling terrain and tall cogon grasses that sway in the wind like giant waves, or ‘daluyong’ in the vernacular. When asked where they live, natives to the place often referred to their small town as “madaluyong,” which literally translates to “place of many waves.” In due time, the word was corrupted to Mandaluyong, which stuck long after the little town’s rolling terrain and tall cogon grasses gave way to a glittering glass, steel and concrete jungle of high rise office buildings, modern residential condominiums, maze of paved streets, de luxe hotels and commercial centers.

Because it lies in the middle of the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Makati, Manila and Quezon City and straddles Metro Manila’s economic beltway that is EDSA, Mandaluyong underwent unprecedented growth and progress during the last decade. From a once sleepy town, it has transformed into an important industrial and residential area and was named in 2002 as the “New Tiger of Metro Manila” by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center.

What to See in Mandaluyong

The city has several man-made places that will certainly be of interest to visitors and tourists alike. These include religious structures, monuments and memorials, government institutions and ultra modern commercial centers.

Ortigas Center: This center of business and commerce is one of the most popular attractions of Mandaluyong. Major international institutions and multinational companies, de luxe hotels and modern malls can be found here, such as: the main headquarters of the Asian Development Bank; San Miguel Corporation, the biggest food and beverage company in the Far East; St. Francis Towers; EDSA Shangri-la Manila; SM Megamall, one of the largest malls in Asia; Shangri-la Plaza; EDSA Central; and, Star Mall.

Mandaluyong City Hall Complex: Within this complex can be found the City Hall, a park where citizens take their daily stroll to relax, various monuments dedicated to the country’s heroes and a museum and convention hall that houses historical collections.

San Felipe Neri Church: Located at the corner of Rev. G. Aglipay and Boni Avenues, this ancient place of worship is dedicated to the Patron Saint of Rome after which Mandaluyong was named during the Spanish period. This heritage site which was run by hostile Spanish friars was a mute witness to bloody skirmishes between Katipunan patriots and the Spanish Guardia Civil.

Where to Eat in Mandaluyong

You’ll never run out of places to eat when you are in Ortigas Center, which is frequented by professionals and executives working in the nearby high-rise offices. The following are the places that have become popular to mall habitués due to their culinary excellence, affordable prices or both.

Asian Bites: Located at the ground floor of the Robinson’s Galleria Supermarket, the counter for this food joint is very easy to find. This place has become very popular among many visitors who are looking for a cheap but filling meal, fast food style. If you want a quick hot meal, try its Asian dishes like noodles, mix vegetables, maki, sushi, tofu, gyoza and watch the cooks prepare your orders in their open-style kitchen as you sip on a glass of thirst-quenching iced tea. For only P100.00, you can enjoy a hearty meal of yakisoba and California maki.

Via Mare: This well-known restaurant that specializes in appetizing Filipino food is located at the ground floor of the Shangri-la EDSA. The cost of a decent meal is about average compared with other restaurants of its class in the vicinity.

Crustasia: Located on the third floor of The Podium along ADB Avenue, this establishment offers freshly caught crabs and seafoods. The ambiance exudes that elegant oriental air. While the menu is a bit pricey, perhaps, you’d like to try its steamed kingfish, grilled squid or crab maritess taken with a steaming platter of salted fried rice which would cost anywhere from P400.00 to P800.00.

Where to Stay in Mandaluyong

Visitors who wish to stay overnight or for a few days are assured of availability of world-class hotels.

New Horizon Hotel: A European hotel that offers high-quality accommodations, services, facilities and lodging amenities at very reasonable cost. With rates starting at USD45.00, or P1,800.00 converted at present forex rates, guests will be entitled to air conditioned rooms, cable TV, IDD/NDD telephone, in-room personal safe and valet parking.

Website: http://www.newhorizonhotel-manila.com/Horizon EDSA Hotel
778 Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong City
Tel. (63+2) 532-3021 to 25

Richville Hotel: This hotel is situated within walking distance of the city’s commercial, financial and entertainment centers. With rates starting at P2,400.00, guests will enjoy large standard air conditioned rooms featuring cable TV, a huge bathroom and IDD/NDD telephone.

Website: http://www.richvillehotel.net/
286 EDSA Crossing
Mandaluyong City
Tel. No.: (+632) 533 – 7080
Cell Nos.: (+63919) 423-5455; (+63927) 886 – 1221
E-Mail: richville@philonline.com.ph

The Legend Hotel: Located within the EDSA-Pioneer business area, this 118-room hotel provides a place for business and leisure in a resort setting. With rates starting at P2,970.00, guests will enjoy an air conditioned room, queen-size bed, bedside control panel, cable TV, 2 IDD phone lines with internet access, toilet and bath and a mini bar.

Website: http://www.legendvillas.com.ph/
Pioneer St. cor. Madison St.
Mandaluyong City
Tel. Nos.: (63+2) 633-1501 to 05

How to Get to Mandaluyong

Manila to Mandaluyong and Back: The Metro Rail Transit (MRT) is the fastest and cheapest way to get from Manila to Mandaluyong. At the MRT station in C.M. Recto Avenue, hop into a train going to Quezon City and alight at the MRT station in Cubao where you will hop into another train bound for Makati. Then get off at the MRT station in Shaw Blvd. in Mandaluyong. The entire trip should take less than one hour and will cost less than P50.00.

Cebu to Mandaluyong and Back: To reach Mandaluyong 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. If your point of disembarkation is the Manila Domestic Airport, you can take a taxi cab or jeepney to the MRT station in Baclaran and board the train going to the Shaw Blvd. station in Mandaluyong. If your point of disembarkation is the Pier Area in Manila, you can take a jeepney or cab to the LRT-1 station in Avenida Rizal and board the train going to Baclaran in Parañaque. From there, board the MRT going to Shaw Blvd. station in Mandaluyong. The taxi fare from the Pier Area to the LRT-1 station is about P100.00-P150.00, while the jeepney fare is cheaper at P7.50 (one way). The LRT and MRT train fare is less than P50.00.

Dumaguete to Mandaluyong and Back: To reach Mandaluyong from Dumaguete, you can fly from Dumaguete to the Manila Domestic Airport in Pasay. Take a taxi cab or a jeepney to the MRT station in Baclaran and board the train going to Shaw Blvd. in Mandaluyong. Approximate cost of a round trip plane ticket is P4,000.00 – P5,000.00. The Taxi fare will cost about P150.00 while the train ride to Mandaluyong is less than P30.00.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Metro Manila

Cagayan de Oro: The City of Golden Friendship

April 15th, 2014 · 14 Comments

Cagayan de Oro City

Cagayan de OroA long time ago, the mighty river that ran through an ancient settlement in the Land of Promise known as the island of Mindanao yielded precious gold nuggets. When Spanish Recollect friars arrived in 1622 the inhabitants referred to their settlement as Cagayan. Most of the male inhabitants were heavily tattooed like the pintados of the Visayan Islands while many of the women wore intricate jewelries made of gold. According to language researchers, the word “karayan,” “kalayan,” or “kagayan” evolved from an ancient Malayo-Polynesian language that meant “river.” In the mid-1800s, the ancient settlement that grew into a town was named “Cagayan de Misamis.” On June 15, 1950, the town was chartered by law as “Cagayan de Oro City” which is a combination of the ancient Malayo-Polynesian and Spanish languages that translates to “City of the River of Gold.”

Today, Cagayan de Oro City is the capital of the Province of Misamis Oriental in Northern Mindanao. It lies 810 kilometers south of Manila bordered on the north by Macajalar Bay in the Bohol Sea; on the south by the mountains and plateaus of Lanao del Norte and Bukidnon; on the west by the Municipality of Opol; and, on the east by the Municipality of Tagoloan.

Mining towns typically fade into oblivion as their mineral deposits get depleted through mining activities. Interestingly, despite centuries of placer mining activities that depleted its gold deposits, Cagayan de Oro City continues to flourish even more. It has become a bustling trade and commercial center and the home of many agri-businesses, food processing and service firms. Because of its good transportation and communications infrastructure, it is considered as the “Gateway to Northern Mindanao” and the major transshipment point to Cebu in the Visayas, Metro Manila and neighboring Asian countries. The well-planned growth of the city made it one of the country’s most livable and peaceful places such that it has become one of the favorite entertainment and shopping destinations in Region X.

While Cagayan de Oro City was named for the gold deposits found centuries ago in its bosom, the secret of its progress lies in its natural attributes such as the presence of a deep water harbor, its accessibility to regional and foreign markets and its relatively safe location outside the Pacific typhoon belt. For many local and foreign investors, these presented golden opportunities to grow their businesses. Complementing these natural attributes, is a far more precious resource that is vital to the economic growth of Cagayan de Oro City. This is the city’s bottomless supply of young, skilled and highly literate human resource. The hospitable, warm and friendly people of Cagayan de Oro City which gave it the distinction of being known as the “City of Golden Friendship” is actually its real treasure more precious than gold.

What to See and Do in Cagayan de Oro

While Cagayan de Oro is the commercial hub of the region, it has not been overtaken by the urban sprawl that is often the consequence of economic progress. It has retained much of Nature’s gifts that make it one of the choice destinations for visitors who yearn for adventure in the great outdoors.

White Water River Rafting: The Cagayan River is perhaps the finest white water rafting destination in the country because even President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself rode the exciting rapids of this river in 2002. Fourteen rapids ranging from class 3 to 4 awaits the adventurer in a three-hour run from Mambuaya to Kabula. Paddling through the rapids also presents an excellent opportunity for the adventuresome sight-seer to admire the beauty of Nature along the river banks and the rural charm of the countryside.

Macahambus Cave and Gorge: Trek to this placid scenic site that was once a witness to the victory of Filipino freedom fighters against the American colonial army during the Philippine-American War of 1900. The picturesque cavern that is covered with lush forest growth leads to a protrusion overlooking the winding Cagayan River. A short distance away is the steep thickly wooded Macahambus Gorge where many of the foreign invaders fell to their deaths.

Monigue Cave: Go spelunking in this cave and marvel at the spectacularly awesome white and brown stalactite and stalagmite formations that fill the cavern. Located at Barangay Mambuaya, the water that flows at the seemingly narrow cave opening is fed by an underground stream.

Where to Eat in Cagayan de Oro

One does not leave Cagayan de Oro on an empty stomach because finding a place to eat in the city is never a problem. Its pineapples from nearby Del Monte plantation and sweet ham are well-known far and wide. The local version of tasty lechon that is served without the liver sauce, the chicken “inasal” and “sinugba,” or grilled sea food that is offered in almost every restaurant come highly recommended.

The Night Café at the Divisoria: Every Fridays and Saturdays this place is set up at the Divisoria area to provide the city’s tired and harried workers a venue to unwind after a week of hard work. Let your hair down and enjoy sea food and barbeque while sipping on a frosty mug of beer and listening to good music in the company of visitors and locals alike.

OIC: Located along Corrales Street, the name of this joint is an acronym that stands for “Only in Cagayan.” Indeed, it is only in this place in Cagayan de Oro City where you can bring your family or the whole gang for a good, cheap meal like grilled sea food, beef and pork appetizingly paired with fresh lumpia, green mangos or seaweed.

Loreto’s: If you are in the area of Tomas Saco Street and are craving for the famous “sinugba,” or grilled delicacies of the city, grab one of the chairs and dine al fresco on grilled sea food and crispy calamares under the soothing spell of acoustic singers.

Where to Stay in Cagayan de Oro

De Luxe Hotel: If you are looking for a place to stay in Cagayan de Oro, try this underrated hotel, which has great service, spacious rooms and fabulously low rates that start at P800.00. Amenities include air conditioning, private bath, ref, telephone and television.

Captain Vicente Roa Street
Cagayan de Oro
Tel. Nos.: (08822) 724-548; 724-563; 726-527
 (088) 857-2145; 857-2144

Philtown Hotel: Reasonably priced with well-prepared food and eager to please staff is how this hotel is described. And, indeed, reasonably priced it is with rates starting at P995.00, guests will be entitled to air conditioning, private bath, television, kitchen, ref and telephone.

Velez-Macahambus Streets
Cagayan de Oro
Tel. No.: 8822-723-089

VIP Hotel: If you are looking for a more pricey accommodation with a good price and good house keeping, then why not try checking into this hotel? With rates starting at P1,800.00, guests will enjoy in-room air conditioning, private shower and bath, mini-bar, ref, television, telephone, coffee maker and alarm clock.

Velez Street
Cagayan de Oro
Tel. Nos.: (088)856-2505; (08822)726-080

How to Get to Cagayan de Oro

Manila to Cagayan de Oro and Back: The fastest way to get to Cagayan de Oro from Manila is by plane. Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines have daily flights to Cagayan de Oro. The cost of a round trip plane ticket is about P8,000.00 and travel time is approximately one hour and twenty minutes. If you choose to travel by sea you can board a ferry in Manila bound for Cagayan de Oro at a travel time of approximately 30 hours. A round trip tourist ticket will cost you about is about P3,400.00.

Cebu to Cagayan de Oro and Back: If you are in a hurry, hop on an Asian Spirit flight bound for Cagayan de Oro. A round trip plane fare will cost you about P5,000.00 and travel time is approximately 45 minutes. If you are on a tight budget, you may want to travel aboard the Super Ferry which regularly leaves Cebu bound for Cagayan de Oro. A round trip boat fare is about P1,600.00 and travel time is approximately 16 hours.

Dumaguete to Cagayan de Oro and Back: Board the Oceanjet fast craft that leaves Dumaguete at 2:20 PM bound for Cebu via Tagbilaran. A round trip boat fare would cost you P1,600.00 and travel time is approximately 4 hours. Upon reaching Cebu, you can either fly or sail to Cagayan de Oro depending on your budget and time.

→ 14 CommentsTags: Mindanao

Obtaining Work Permit in the Philippines for Expats

April 15th, 2014 · 17 Comments

Let’s face it, with very limited jobs to go around for qualified Filipinos, it is quite difficult to find a job for an expat in the Philippines.

The Philippine government ensured that Filipino jobs are practically for the locals. Certain laws have been put up to secure the stand of locals against foreigners seeking to work in Filipino companies. Unless you are married to a Filipino, you will find it hard to move around here to earn an income. If you have got some capital funds to spare for a business or two is an entirely different thing. Foreign investors are warmly welcomed in the Philippines; foreign workers are not.

Obtaining a work permit in the Philippines could be pretty challenging. You will have to be pre-employed first. That is easier that way than obtaining one with just prospective job offers in the horizon. After securing a job, your employer would most likely make the recommendation that you be awarded a working visa. In this case, you will have to go to a local embassy of your home country. From there, you will also have to go through the Philippines’ Depart of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and obtain an alien employment permit from there. The process usually take three to six months long; the validity of the working visa is mostly for one to two years depending on the circumstances you were awarded it. Renewal of the working visa is much easier than putting everything in place the first time. Unless you have made a pretty bad record, you will most likely get your renewal in a no-sweat fashion.

Yes, a foreigner may stand a chance at taking the best jobs in the Philippines because of the high quality standard of their degrees as compared with the locals. But the government is keeping expats off guard, especially with millions of Filipinos waiting in line to be hired. If you are extremely skilled in your profession and you know you could do well with a Filipino company, start applying for jobs. You have all the right to. If the company gets you, go through the painful process of obtaining a working permit and you are on a roll. Be aware, however, that compensation packages in the Philippines are not as impressive. You will need to find your way through a meek salary if you really want to be employed. As mentioned earlier, it is different when you are funding to build a new business there. That is mostly the advisable deal for expats.

→ 17 CommentsTags: Expats

Small Business Tips on Rainy Days

April 15th, 2014 · 2 Comments

Rainy days in the Philippines are months that cover almost half of the year. They usually start from July to November. These are times when storms and typhoons often disrupt the regular flow of business. Moreover, these are often lean months because people would rather stay at home than go out shopping. So how do we prepare our business for the rainy days?

Watch what people usually need on rainy days. It will be well to be a bit flexible with one’s business items and have them conform to what is presently the need of the majority. When classes are suspended, business items for kids and teenagers are down. Toys, school supplies, and sweet and delicacies, for instance, take a back seat during severe storms. Small businesses near schools experience reduced sales. In such cases, the best option is to go for what kids often do when kept indoors. It will be a good idea to have some DVD movies rented out along with some spicy food snacks or chips. And yes, don’t forget the ever present need, especially of young people, for mobile phone loads.

When the weather gets more fierce and college classes and some offices are suspended, the best thing to have for business are quick-to-cook foods like canned foods and sardines, dried fish, eggs, and processed foods (native sausages or “longanisa,” dried beef of “tapa,” tocino), and the like. Rice, of course, is always good business, come rain or shine. Matches and candles are best sellers, too, so with batteries and cheap flashlights. And in such emergencies, mobile phone loads are again hot business items. And don’t forget pre-packed three or seven in one instant coffee sachets, and instant noodles.

In the rainy season, selling some rain protection items will prove rewarding in business. Just have the necessities around, like light raincoats, light umbrellas (the kind that sell for P50), some slippers, and a few caps.

Established businesses are likely to be in malls or big shopping centers where rains seldom affect business flow. In fact, people frequent the malls when rainy days are here instead of going on outings.

But with businesses that are just starting and can barely afford mall concessions, they are likely to be in street or road corners, intersections, along sidewalks, or in markets—inconvenient places to be on rainy days. With small and just-starting businesses the competitive edge is to be a bit flexible and cater to immediate needs.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Business in the Philippines

Hundred Islands Myth of a Hundred Promiscuity

April 14th, 2014 · 2 Comments

One of the myths told of the Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan is a tragic story about a hundred promiscuous men who started out right but ended up wrong.

A seafaring people of a coastal town in the north, the myth says, were brave and industrious men. They were also devoted husbands and fathers who cared well for their wives and families, and were legendary in their strict adherence to the town code of being one-woman men. The myth goes on that because of their exceptional marital faithfulness, one day they were divinely endowed with a tremendous power to overcome any sea disaster or calamity.

So daily, whatever the mood of the sea, the myth tells of every brave fisherman from the town of Ala-manos, young and old, going out at dawn and coming back in the afternoon with an astounding catch. Fish supply was aplenty. Even with the stockpile being sold to nearby towns, leftovers were still abundant and exported overseas.

The myth says that when the seas were high and rough and fish was scarce, fishermen of other adjacent coastal towns found fishing difficult; but not Ala-manos fishermen. Regardless of the sea condition, they brought home tons of fish daily and nothing untoward happened to any of them in the sea—all 100 fishing boats. The supernatural exploits reached the ears of the towns nearby and soon it was believed that Ala-manos fishermen worked “with the hands” of “Bathala” or God, the myth adds.

With more fish supply came more fortune, more so when the other towns faced fish scarcity. But the myth points out that with more wealth the men of Ala-manos became lax on their avowed marital faithfulness and soon had concubines from neighboring towns. The thing became scandalously unmitigated, until one day, when the 100 boats had set out to sea on a stormy morning, roaring angry waves swallowed them up in an instant. No boat returned that afternoon. Daily the families would wait on the shore for a sign of the boats, to no avail.

One morning, the people of Ala-manos saw 100 new islands on the sea. Bathala warned them that each time an unfaithful fisherman sets out to sea, another island would be added until the sea was no more. Since then, Ala-manos men became more faithful husbands, the myth concludes.

This myth shows that it’s not lack of wealth that’s really the problem, but what wealth could do to its possessor.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Myths and Superstitions