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Cavite: Birthplace of Philippine Independence

August 21st, 2014 · 3 Comments


Cavite mapIf you peer on an old Spanish map, you would see a crescent or hook-shaped peninsula that lies thirty-four kilometers from what is now the City of Manila at the southwest entrance of Manila Bay across the Bataan Peninsula. Known in the olden days as “Tangway,” this place was subsequently called “Kawit,” which aptly describes in the vernacular the land that juts out into the sea like a hook. As the settlement grew over the centuries, the word evolved into “Cawite,” then finally, to its present name of Cavite.

The Province of Cavite which includes most of the islands in Manila Bay such as Corregidor, Caballo, Carabao and El Fraile islands is bounded on the east by the provinces of Laguna and Rizal; on the west by the south China Sea; on the south by the province of Batangas; and, on the north by the City of Manila and Manila Bay. The earliest settlers of the place were sea-faring people from Borneo many of whom were skilled naval artisans. During the Spanish regime, the shipyards in this part of the country produced many of the galleys and naval frigates as well as the great galleons that sailed the ocean trade routes from Manila to Acapulco in Mexico.

It is difficult to think of Cavite today without associating it with the most defining and glorious moment in the history of the Filipino nation—the proclamation of Philippine independence on June 12, 1898 after three hundred years of oppressive Spanish rule. If Cavite basks in the glory of leading the country’s inexorable march towards becoming a free and sovereign nation, it too, had offered its own share of sacrifice on the altar of freedom. When the Philippine Revolution broke out on August 25, 1896, the province became the theater of the bloody upheaval.

Like other provinces, Cavite is the home of many patriots, heroes and martyrs who led and inspired the noble struggle for national liberation. The most illustrious of Cavite’s sons is General Emilio Aguinaldo who defeated in fair combat the best of the Spanish generals such as: Ernesto de Aguirre in the Battle of Imus; Ramon Blanco in the Battle of Binakayan; and, Antonio Zaballa in the Battle of Anabu. Led by General Aguinaldo, the revolutionary forces soon liberated the entire province and pursued the struggle throughout the country to its successful conclusion making the Philippines the first Asian country to break its shackles from its colonial master.

The proclamation of Philippine independence in Kawit, Cavite in 1898 is the most important legacy of the Philippine revolutionary war against Spain. It had imbued in the Filipino consciousness a sense of identity and nationhood that would fortify the resolve of the young Philippine Republic to confront future challenges and enable it to stand proud among the concert of free and sovereign nations.

What to See in Cavite

The Province of Cavite does not delve into its past, glorious as it is. Instead, it has kept abreast with the fast-paced life of the modern world. While it is the smallest province in the CALABARZON (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon) region with an area of 130 thousand hectares, it is also the most populous. The growth of its population is attributed mainly to in-migration due to the increase in job opportunities and prime housing facilities. Presently, there are more than 30 industrial estates and countless prime residential subdivisions in the province. Amenities such as golf courses and shopping centers have begun to dot the landscape to cater to its burgeoning population. Despite all these, much of Cavite remains unspoiled by progress because its landscape is teeming with historical and cultural spots and fantastic natural attractions.

Aguinaldo Shrine and Museum: Located in the town of Kawit, the shrine is the ancestral home of General Emilio Aguinaldo. It was from a window of this Spanish designed house that the Philippine Independence from Spain was proclaimed and the national flag was first unfurled while a band played the stirring chords of the national anthem. The remains of General Aguinaldo rests on a hallowed spot on the garden of his house, which was donated to the government in 1962. Guided tours are available daily in the shrine from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM except Mondays. The good thing about it is that the guide will provide information about secret tunnel passages leading to the church and emergency exits.

Corregidor: This is an island fortress that guards the entrance to Manila Bay where Filipino and American troops valiantly fought against the Japanese invaders during World War II. The gallant stand of the Filipino and American defenders of Bataan and Corregidor delayed the Japanese timetable and successfully prevented the advance of the Japanese Imperial Army towards Australia and New Zealand. The war ruins of this island fortress together with its tunnels, mortars and naval gun emplacements are preserved, maintained and managed as an important historic site under the jurisdiction of Cavite City.

Aside from the numerous heritage and historic sites, Cavite offers fantastic natural attractions that make it a perfect destination for visitors who wish to see Nature’s wonders that are a short distance from the urban sprawl of Metro Manila. Take a quick tour of these sights and marvel at the gushing cascades of Malibiclibic Falls or Balite Falls in Amadeo or go spelunking at the Cabag Cave in Silang. Best of all, why not go sightseeing and drive around the Tagaytay Ridge and gawk at the fantastic view of Taal Volcano and its splendid backdrop of gleaming Taal Lake framed in the wide blue yonder.

Where to Eat in Cavite

When your eyes feast on the fantastic sights and heritage structures of the province, sooner or later your stomach will grumble and you will need to look for places with equally fantastic food. This is no problem because Cavite abounds with restaurants that offer the freshest vegetable, meats and seafood. Take for instance the following:

Josephine’s Restaurant: Located in Kawit and in Tagaytay, this famous seafood restaurant offers traditional Filipino food. If you are a first timer, you must not miss its specialty “Mutya ng Cavite” soup which is a white cream base soup filled to the brim with different seafood such as squid, shrimp, clams, crabs and mussels.

Hidden Tapsihan: So named because it is tucked in one of the hidden streets in Kawit near the St. Mary Magdalene Church. But as they say, no good eating place can remain hidden from the persistent gastronome who wants to experience its excellent “tapa,” or beef jerky and sweet vinegar sauce with onions. The budget conscious traveler will be pleased to find out that a complete meal with drinks and dessert will cost less than P100.00.

Café on the Ridge: Located along Aguinaldo Highway in Tagaytay, this restaurant overlooks Taal Volcano. Visitors will love its special smoked tanguingue, gambas, crispy tawilis, and bulalo. Tourists bring home mouth watering memories of its super special dessert named after the famed volcano nearby—Taal Chocolate Eruption, a “baked to order” rich chocolate cake dripping with chocolate cream sauce served with vanilla ice cream.

Where to Stay in Cavite

Microtel Inn & Suites-Eagle Ridge: This 57-room economy hotel accommodation in the flourishing town of General Trias is comfortably nestled inside the Eagle Ridge Golf and Residential Estates. With rates starting at P1,834.00, guests will enjoy a queen-sized bed, cable TV, air conditioning, IDD/ NDD telephone, Internet connectivity, built-in desk and furniture, full-sized bath with hot& cold water and radio clock.

Eagle Ridge Golf &Country Club
Amadeo Road, Cavite
Tel. No.: (6346) 509-3333

Mount Sea Fiesta Resort: Situated just 25 kilometers away from the City of Manila, this resort is about 40 minutes drive from the country’s capital. With rates starting at P2,300.00, this resort offers air conditioning, cable TV, IDD/ NDD telephone, and hot and cold shower.

Rosario, Cavite
Tel. No.: (046) 438-3888
Fax No.: (02) 301-0530 loc 184
Island Cove Resort & Leisure Park: This resort is the nearest from Manila. Take an easy drive through Roxas Boulevard and pass the scenic Coastal Road and in 45 minutes, you’ll find yourself in this island sanctuary. With rates starting at P2,700.00, visitors will be entitled to air conditioned units, telephone, ref and safe deposit.

Covelandia Road
Kawit, Cavite
Tel. No.: (632) 810-3718
Fax No.: (632) 810-3764

How to Get to Cavite

Manila to Cavite and Back: Public transportation bound for Cavite is available from 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM. The Saint Anthony and Saulog air conditioned buses load and unload passengers at Vito Cruz corner Harrison Streets near Harrison Plaza in front of the Central bank of the Philippines. Travel time going to the nearest point which is Bacoor is about 20 to 30 minutes while it would take around two hours going to the farthest point which is Silang. The bus fare is less than 50 pesos.

Cebu to Cavite and Back: To reach Cavite 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 P6,000.00 – P7,000.00 while a round trip boat fare is approximately P3,000.00 – P4,000.00. Once you disembark at the Manila Domestic Airport or Pier Area, it is best to take a taxi cab and ask to be taken to Harrison Plaza where you can take the bus bound for Cavite. The taxi fare should not cost more than P200.00.

Dumaguete to Cavite and Back: To reach Cavite from Dumaguete, you can fly from Dumaguete to the Manila Domestic Airport in Pasay City. From the airport, flag a taxi cab and ask to be taken to Harrison Plaza where you can hop on a bus bound for Cavite. The taxi fare should not cost more than P200.00.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Luzon

Manila: Pearl of the Orient

August 21st, 2014 · 1 Comment


manila mapLocated on the eastern shore of Manila Bay, bisected right in the middle by the mighty Pasig River just west of Quezon City on the island of Luzon, Manila is the chief seaport and cultural center of the Philippines. This 3,855-hectare land is the country’s seat of political and administrative power as it is the home of Malacanang Palace, the official residence of the President of the Philippine Republic, the Supreme Court and other major government agencies.

The city’s name is derived from the phrase “May Nilad,” which literally translates to “the place of the nilad,” referring to the flowering mangrove plant that grew in abundance centuries ago on the marshy shores of Manila Bay. Even in Pre-Hispanic times, this ancient city traded with India and China as it was once a part of two powerful Hindu empires, the Srivijaya that ruled Sumatra, and later, the Majapahit empire based in East Java.

Starting from the country’s colonial period in 1565 up to its independence in 1946, the city was the center of government by a succession of Spanish and American colonizers and Japanese invaders. Up until the start of the Second World War, Manila was considered the most beautiful city in Asia. But this distinction was abruptly put to an end when carpet bombing by U.S. Forces and house-to-house fighting leveled the city to the ground and made it the most ravaged city in the world second only to Warsaw in Poland.

Although the Philippines is said to be the largest Catholic country in Asia, Manila’s cosmopolitan culture mirrors a society that has held on to its roots. It has a mixture of different religions such as Muslims, Hindus and Christians that live together in harmony. This premiere city’s stature as the capital of the Philippines is globally recognized as Paris is widely known as the capital of France.

The City Seal of Manila, which shows a pearl embedded in a shell aptly describes the city as the “Pearl of the Orient” because of its picturesque location and astounding golden sunsets viewed from the shores of enchanting Manila Bay.

What to see in Manila

On account of its strategic location, this modern, teeming metropolis is used as a base for further travel to other parts of the country that is why it is often referred to as the “Gateway to the Philippines.” However, many people who stop to explore the city on their way to other parts of the islands discover the friendliness and charm of its blend of cultures, and invariably find nuggets of treasured sights to behold and experiences to remember. Manila is an exciting place to be and communication with its friendly people is easy because English is widely spoken, prices are dirt cheap and you can definitely get much more than your fair share of sunshine. A visit to Manila can never be complete without a tour of the following:

The Walled City of Intramuros: Located south of the Pasig River along Sta. Clara Street, this ancient fortress built by the Spanish colonizers in 1571 is the old and original enclave of Manila, which was the exclusive preserve of the Spanish ruling class. One of the oldest spots in the country, Intramuros is packed with ancient churches and buildings. The walls are almost what remained of the original fortress after the devastation of World War II. And, if you walk on its 4.5 kilometer long rampart, you can almost feel a strong sense of its glorious history.

Rizal Park: Said to be Asia’s largest park, this 60-hectare expanse of ornamental gardens, paved walks, open lawns, and wooded areas, is bordered by Burgos Street, Taft Avenue, T.M. Kalaw and Quirino Streets. The most familiar spot in this historically significant park is the monument of Jose Rizal, the Philippine National Hero, who was executed on this site by the Spanish colonialists, and where his remains now lie buried. Other attractions in the park are the National Museum, the Planetarium, Orchidarium, the Butterfly Pavilion, the Chinese and Japanese Gardens. Hundreds of locals and tourists alike flock here daily for a relaxing early morning or late afternoon stroll or to go people watching.

Ermita-Malate Tourist Belt: The Ermita and Malate Districts located south of the Pasig River are the centers of bohemian nightlife and are two of the city’s most well-known tourist districts known for night entertainment. In this area, tourists can also shop till they drop in the daytime for priceless souvenir items such as indigenous and tribal products crafted from fabric, wood, shells, silver, leather and other handicrafts and elegant embroidered products. The more adventurous bargain hunters can go to a cluster of stalls located under the Quezon Bridge in the Quiapo District north of the Pasig River where native handicrafts are sold at rock-bottom prices.

Where to Eat in Manila

The historic past of the city is reflected on its blend of flavors and cuisine–from American to Spanish, Chinese and Japanese recipes, with specialties ranging from steaks to seafood and noodles. Understandably, the best Spanish food in the Far East can be found in Manila, the Philippines being the only former Spanish colony in Asia. However, a host of American fast food chains also dot the city such as Burger King, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut, KrispyKreme, Shakey’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Chow King (Chinese), Saisaki (Japanese) and Jollibee, the Filipino version of McDonald’s are found in most malls, tourist and university belts. A typical burger or chicken meal in these fast food chains can be had for as cheap as USD2.00 – USD3.00, or P80.00 –P120.00!

On the other hand, casual or sit-down dining in city restaurants fall under the mid-range price category, which amount to about USD8.00-USD10.00, or about P320.00-P400.00 per person. For this price range, you can also eat all you can buffet style in some of the city restaurants.

Ilustrado: Located in 744 Gen. Luna St. in Intramuros, this mid-range restaurant is set in a reconstructed Spanish-era house in the historic Walled City of Intramuros. European, Spanish and Filipino food are elaborately prepared and served here.

Harbor View: This establishment can be found at South Boulevard, in historic Rizal Park. Dining here is complemented by the clean, fresh sea breeze because the restaurant is located on a jetty fronting Manila Bay, which gives the illusion of dining aboard a yacht that is cruising on the bay.

Where to Stay in Manila

Because people from all over the country and around the world flock to Manila all year round, there are all sorts of hotels and resorts in the city that cater to all levels of visitors. Most of these are conveniently located near tourist attractions and commercial centers.

Friendlys Guesthouse: This hostel offers good clean accommodation aimed at backpackers and budget conscious travelers. It has large living areas, a big kitchen and free wi-fi. Big Bed Aircon Rooms With Private Bath – P800.00, Triple Economy Double Deck Aircon Rooms (sofa bed on bottom and single bed on top for 3 persons) – P800.00, Big Bed / Double Deck Bed Aircon Rooms – P700.00, Aircon Dormitory – P300.00, Single Bed / Big Bed Fan Rooms – P400.00, 450.00 & 500.00.

1750 Adriatico cor. Nakpil Streets
Malate, Manila

Lotus Garden Suites: This hotel is emerging as one of the most preferred standard hotels in Manila, whose best rates of USD33.00, or P1,320.00 is just right for the visitor looking for mid-range cost accommodations.

1227 A. Mabini cor. Padre Faura Streets
Ermita, Manila
Fax: +632-522-0768

The Manila Hotel: Located right beside the Rizal Park a short distance away from the Walled City of Intramuros and the Baywalk area, this historic hotel will surely fit the budget of visitors who love to splurge for a taste of class.

One Rizal Park
Roxas Boulevard, Manila
Fax: +632-527-0022

How to Get to Manila

How to Go Around the City: Public transportation like buses, jeepneys and taxi cabs are aplenty in the city. To avoid the nightmarish city traffic, you can ride the Light Rail Transit (LRT), whose two elevated lines run from Monumento in Caloocan City to Baclaran in Pasay City and from C.M. Recto in Manila to Santolan Avenue in Quezon City. Going around the city entails the minimum fare for a jeepney or bus ride. In addition, horse drawn carriages called “calesas” are popular means of transportations in certain areas, such as Intramuros, Rizal Park and Chinatown in Binondo.

Cebu to Manila and Back: To reach Manila from Cebu, you can either fly or sail from Cebu to Manila. Approximate cost of a round trip plane ticket is P3,500.00 – P5,000.00 while a round trip boat fare is approximately 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 P150.00 to P250.00 (one way). If you are not in a hurry, from your point of disembarkation, you can hop on a bus, jeepney or LRT which will take you to Manila for less than P30.00 (one way).

Dumaguete to Manila and Back: To reach Manila from Dumaguete, you can fly from Dumaguete to Manila. Approximate cost of a round trip plane ticket is P3,500.00 – P5,000.00. After you disembark at the Manila Domestic Airport, you can take a cab to Manila, which will cost about P150.00 to P250.00 (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 Manila for less than P30.00 (one way).

→ 1 CommentTags: Metro Manila

Cebu: Queen City of the South

August 21st, 2014 · 3 Comments


cebu cityIf the queen is the second most important piece on the chess board next to the king, then Cebu must be the second most important city in the Philippines next to Manila. But considering its many “firsts,” it could very well have been the premier city of the country.

Appropriately dubbed as the “Queen City of the South,” it lies on the eastern shore of the island of Cebu 600 kilometers south of Manila. It is bounded on the east by the Mactan Strait; on the west by Toledo City and the towns of Asturias and Balamban; on the northeast by Mandaue City and the town of Consolacion; and, on the south by Talisay City and the town of Minglanilla.

Centrally located in the Philippine archipelago, Cebu is a vital economic nerve center whose influence pulsates all throughout the rest of the southern regions in the Visayas and Mindanao. Outside of Manila, it provides the most important entry and exit point for international flights. And, because of its sheltered deep water harbor, it serves as an excellent base for more than eighty percent of the country’s inter-island shipping firms and is the gateway to the central and southern Philippines. And if the Capital City of the Philippines is the first among 16 other cities in Luzon that comprise Metro Manila, the Queen City of the South is the center of Metro Cebu which is composed of the cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Naga, Talisay and Cebu.

Like Manila, Cebu traces its beginnings to the dawn of civilization in the Philippines dating back to at least 1,000 BC. An interesting point in this regard is that the place name of Cebu has remained phonetically unchanged since pre-Hispanic times. It was known back then as “Zebu,” which was most probably derived from the Malay word “sebu” which means “place of abundance.” No other name could have given a more accurate description because it was already an economically developed and prosperous settlement that maintained trade ties with other civilizations in Asia and the Middle East long before the arrival of the first Spanish galleons. In the chronicles of Antonio Pigafetta, who landed with Ferdinand Magellan in Cebu on April 7, 1521, shipping vessels from China, Siam (Thailand) and Arabia were described to be docked at the Port of Cebu when they arrive in the area.

It was in Cebu that Magellan planted the Cross making it the first Christian settlement in the country. But it was also in Cebu that the early Filipinos put up their first heroic resistance to Spanish colonization. Led by Lapu-Lapu, the courageous chieftain of Mactan, the Filipino warriors repulsed the advance of the Spaniards and took the life of Magellan. But freedom for the Philippines would be short lived because after 44 years the foreign colonists, driven by their lust for gold and exotic spices of the East, would return with a vengeance. On April 27, 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi landed in Cebu to reestablish an oppressive Spanish dominion over much of the country that would last for the next three hundred years.

Under Spanish rule, Cebu became the country’s first city—ahead of Manila by seven years. As such, many of its attractions, structures and institutions would necessarily have the distinction of being the oldest in the country. The Basilica Minore del Santo Niño in downtown Cebu is the oldest church; Fort San Pedro, the oldest yet smallest fort; San Carlos University, the oldest school; and, Colon Street, the oldest avenue in the country.

Known for its excellently crafted guitars, banduria, piccolo and other stringed instruments, Cebu’s economy is powered by the entrepreneurial spirit of its people whose small and medium enterprises pushed the city to the frontlines of progress. Although it is a thriving modern trade center and a busy metropolis, Cebu has not lost its natural attractions and has become one of the most popular tourist and business destinations in the country.

What to See in Cebu

This premier southern city is the birthplace of Christianity in the Philippines and may disputably be the first place in Asia ever to be touched by the Cross. A visit to the following sites would impart a better appreciation of how these religious relics have shaped the culture and destiny of the Philippines.

Magellan’s Cross: Upon landing in Cebu in 1521, Magellan is said to have planted this cross on this very spot in downtown Cebu. This subsequently became the most famous place in the country as it was here where the first Christian Filipinos were baptized, which includes Rajah Humabon and his wife, Queen Juana. Now housed in a chapel, the cross was encased in 1835 in a hollow tindalo wood to keep devotees from chipping off pieces of the wood relic to take home as religious souvenirs.

Basilica Minore del Santo Niño: Located a few paces away from Magellan’s Cross is this Augustinian church which is considered as the only Roman Catholic Basilica in the Far East. This church, which is constructed of hewn stone, serves as the sanctuary of the Santo Niño image that was given to Queen Juana in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan. This religious site is open to the public on Fridays and Sundays.

Challenging jungle treks and sea dives: While Cebu might be a modern metropolis, it has retained much of its natural allure that continues to attract tourists from all over the world. It offers the nature lover an adventurous trek through the jungles and rivers on the outskirts of the city or a climb up the mountain trails and an exciting rappel down its deep gorges. The magnificent white sand beaches and crystalline waters in the islands of Badian, Mactan, Bantayan and Malapascua as well as the magnificent diving spots in Moalboal and Maribago off Cebu strongly beckon to the diving and snorkeling spirit of sea-loving visitors.

Where to Eat in Cebu

Cebu is as cosmopolitan as Manila. And when it comes to restaurants, it has a pretty wide range to choose from. It has Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Italian, Spanish and American as well as the ubiquitous international and local fast food chain brands that dot the malls and commercial centers of major cities.

Golden Cowrie Restaurant Cebu: A must-eat place that will give you the best value for your money in terms of fast and courteous service, excellent food, affordable price and good ambiance. Why not set aside your diet for a while and savor its finger licking good crispy pata and dinuguan. Better yet, have a fill of its delicious version of “adobong kangkong” and “tahong,” which are typically known nation-wide as the “poor man’s diet,” and understand why these are so popular among the Filipino masses.

Grand Majestic Restaurant: If you are ready to splurge to satisfy your taste buds, then go ahead and taste its famous “Peking Duck,” dimsum and mouth-watering desserts. Otherwise, you would fly back home with that sneaky feeling that your trip to Cebu had been an incomplete experience.

Mr. A: Located on a hill in the mountain barangay of Busay, this restaurant offers a range of affordable Cebuano fiesta fare, a great ambiance and an even greater view of the city.

Where to Stay in Cebu

Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino: Tourists and businessmen with a taste for elegance would find this first class hotel located a stone’s throw away from the city’s financial district and best tourist attractions appealing to their most discriminating needs. With rates starting at USD100.00, or P4,100.00 converted at current forex rates, guests at this famous landmark would be able to enjoy air conditioning; cable TV; NDD/IDD telephone; wi-fi Internet connectivity; mini-bar and ref; and, complimentary round trip shuttle from the hotel to the malls.

Salinas Drive
Lahug, Cebu City
Tel. No.: (+6332) 232-6888
Fax No. : (+6332) 232-6880
Email :

Cebu Grand Hotel: Affordable hotels are normally hard to come by in a cosmopolitan metropolis that is a choice tourist destination like Cebu. That is why a standard class hotel like Cebu Grand Hotel that is centrally located to the city’s commercial districts, finest tourist spots and recreational facilities would normally always be fully booked by businessmen and tourists with a discriminating taste. With rates starting at P2,700.00, guests would enjoy air conditioning; NDD/ IDD telephone; cable TV; private bath room and bath; and, hot and cold shower.

Cebu Capitol Complex,
North Escario Street
Cebu City
Tel Nos.: (+6332) 254-6362
 (+6362) 254-6361
Fax No. : (+6362) 254-6363
Email :
Richmond Plaza Hotel Cebu: Strategically located near the Ayala Business Park and uptown Cebu, this economy class hotel is perfect for budget leisure travelers. With rates starting at P950.00, the intrepid traveler will get to enjoy air conditioning; pipe-in music; cable TV; dinette; mini-bar; private toilet and bath; and, hot and cold shower.

F. Sotto Drive, Gordo Ave.
Cebu City
Tel. Nos.: (+6332) 232-4616 to 27
 (+6332) 232-0361
Email :

How to Get to Cebu

Manila to Cebu and Back: Flights from Manila to Cebu via Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines are scheduled daily with round trip tickets priced at an average of P4,000.00. Another way to get to Cebu is by sea via Super Ferry Lines. The approximate cost of a round trip boat fare is P2,400.00 and travel time is about 21 hours.

Getting Around Cebu: The fastest and simplest way to move around the city is by riding a taxi cab where a trip will typically cost approximately P100 provided you know the name of the street, building or area you want to reach. If you are the adventurous type, you can opt for a jeepney or a bus, which at P7.00 to P10.00 per trip, are a much cheaper yet fun way of getting around the city and rub elbows with the city’s friendly “hoi poloi.”

Dumaguete to Cebu 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.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Visayas

Zamboanga: Latin City of Asia

August 21st, 2014 · 16 Comments


ZamboangaEl orgullo de Mindanao, which means “the pride of Mindanao” in the Spanish derivative language spoken in Zamboanga City, is located on the southernmost tip of the Zamboanga Peninsula 850 kilometers south of Manila. It is bounded on the east by the Moro Gulf, on the west by the Sulu Sea and on the south by the Celebes Sea and the Basilan Strait. Its proud Chavacano speaking residents affectionately refer to the only Latin city in Asia, which they call home, as Zamboanga hermosa, or beautiful Zamboanga for good reason. In the olden days before the arrival of the Spaniards, the Subanon highlanders called the place “Jambangan,” which means “Garden” or a place blooming with plenty of flowers. Later, their boat dwelling descendants called Badjaos and Samals transliterated the word to “Samboangan,” which was corrupted to its present place name of “Zamboanga.”

Curiously, despite its exotic sounding name that is rooted on the Bahasa Sug, a strain of Austronesian language that is now spoken by over one million people in the Sulu Archipelago, Zamboanga City presents as a pocket of Castillian influence and culture in the heart of Muslim Mindanao. More interesting still is that the Chavacano language spoken by most of its residents is actually Spanish that is adulterated with 30 percent local dialects, making it a place unlike any other in the country. To better appreciate this cultural paradox, we need to travel back in time to the 13th century when this coastal settlement became a barter trading post among its native Subanons, Samals, Badjaos, Tausugs and the Chinese-Malays from the nearby islands in Southeast Asia. By the time the first Spanish galley appeared on the horizon off Caldera Bay in 1593, Zamboanga was already a major trading center with a vibrant economy and a culture of its own.

It was in this place that the Spanish colonialists staked the Cross enabling Christianity to gain a foothold in Mindanao. To preserve their presence in the area, they built Fort Pilar in 1635 around which the city eventually grew. While Spain was never able to subjugate the rest of the island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago because of the strong influence of Islam, the heavy influx of Spanish nationals in Zamboanga during their colonization efforts that lasted until the end of the 19th century has resulted in the growth of the Spanish Creole tongue that is now popularly known as Chavacano.

The economy of Zamboanga today is largely agro-aqua culture based that provide livelihood and income to more than seventy percent of its population. Its biggest produce is coconut, corn, fish and is the country’s principal producer of carageenan, or sea weeds. The city is also pretty well-known for its sardine and canning industries whose famous brands cater to the domestic and foreign markets in the US, Europe and Asia.

Its robust fishing industry is supported by the fishing barangays in twenty-eight islands off the mainland coast that fall under the political and administrative jurisdiction of the city. The most popular of these islands among locals, tourists and scuba divers are the Santa Cruz islands because of their exquisite pink coral sands.

What to See in Zamboanga

Fort Pilar: A must-see for first time visitors, this ancient fortress is a fifteen- minute walk from the City Hall along NS Valderrosa Street. It was originally built in 1635 by Father Melchor de Vera to ward off foreign invaders and intrusions from pirates. From the protection of this Spanish fortification, the present City of Zamboanga grew to what it is today.

Pasonanca Park: Located about 7.5 kilometers from the city proper, this world-renowned tourist attraction that lies 500 feet above sea level is dubbed as the “Little Baguio” of the south because of its cool air and cleanliness of surroundings. The verdant mountains and hills that surround the park make it the perfect venue for camping and scouting jamborees.

Exquisite Beaches: A favorite destination of scuba divers and snorkelers are the pink coral-sand beaches of the Sta. Cruz islands off the Zamboanga mainland which are teeming with sea life. The adventurous visitor would certainly be surprised to learn that the surrounding Sulu Sea holds more than half of the world’s known shell species.

Where to Eat in Zamboanga

Like the city’s culture and language, Zamboanga cuisine is a delicious mix of Iberian and local flavors. Food names still reflect vestiges of their Spanish origin such as callos de andalucia or arroz valenciana. Because of its proximity to the sea and robust fishing industry, there is an abundance of fresh sea food at prices you can afford. A sea food outing is something you should not miss when in Zambaonga where a serving of the fabled “curacha,” or red frog crab will take your culinary experience to new heights.

La Vista Del Mar: About six kilometers out of town along the West Coast Highway, you’d find this elegant outdoor sea food restaurant that offers good food with a great view of the sea complemented with its décor of vinta sail boats. Try its roasted freshly harvested prawns served on bamboo trays or grilled milk fish called “bangus” with a dipping of soy sauce, mild vinegar and chili.

Hai San Sea Food Market & Restaurant: Located along San Jose Road, this unique sea food restaurant allows its customers to pick their choice of fresh sea catch contained in shallow containers before these are brought to the kitchen. The fresh catch include the famous “curacha,” lobsters and “lapu-lapu,” or groupers.

Alavar Sea Food Restaurant: Along Don Alfaro Street, you’d find one of the most popular sea food restaurants in the city. Alavar is just about one of the few places where the young and the young at heart will not only get to taste excellent sea food, but the original Spanish Creole recipes as well that evoke memories of Zamboanga’s colorful past.

Where to Stay in Zamboanga

Grand Astoria Hotel: With standard rooms priced at P650.00 equipped with air conditioning, ref, telephone, cable TV and hot and cold shower, this hotel is perfect for budget travelers and backpackers

Jaldon Street
Telephone. No.: (62) 991-2510

Lantaka by the Sea Hotel: This standard class hotel offers reasonable priced standard air conditioned rooms which start at P1,320.00. But what is particularly extraordinary about this place is located on the paved area by the wharf behind the hotel. Here, you will find colorful vinta sail boats and stalls of the Badjao sea gypsies, one of the original people who settled Zamboanga. The Badjaos offer various decorative items and trinkets fashioned out of materials harvested from the sea. The most common are pearls that have been stringed into necklaces or fashioned into ear rings. While a set of these can be bought at ridiculously low prices, the real bargain lies in your experience of having bought these right off the hands of a Badjao diver who retrieved these gems from the bottom of the sea and which he crafted himself into jewelry with a story to tell.

Valderrosa St.
Tel.No.: (6362) 991-2033

Garden Orchid Hotel: Equipped with air conditioning, cable TV, NDD/IDD telepnone, hot and cold showers, the price for standard rooms start at P1,736.00. This hotel is highly recommended for businessmen in search for luxury and who wish to live within striking distance from every major place or facility in the city. It’s also an excellent place to rub elbows and be seen with affluent Chavacanos who frequent the hotel.

Gov. Camins Avenue
Tel. Nos.: (6362) 991-0031 up to 34

How to Get to Zamboanga

Manila to Zamboanga and Back: The fastest way to get to Zamboanga from Manila is by plane. Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines have daily flights that can whisk you away to the Latin City of Asia in about one hour and thirty-five minutes for a round trip plane fare of about P8,000.00. If you choose to travel by sea you can board a ferry in Manila and sail to Zamboanga City at a travel time of approximately 45 hours. A round trip ticket for a super value non-air conditioned bunk will cost you about P2,600.00.

Cebu to Zamboanga and Back: If you want to get there pronto, hop on a Cebu Pacific flight bound for Zamboanga City. A round trip plane fare will cost you about P4,000.00 and travel time is approximately one hour and twenty-five minutes. If you are on a tight budget, you may want to travel aboard the Super Ferry which regularly leaves Cebu bound for Zamboanga City. A round trip super value boat fare for a non-air conditioned bunk is about P2,100.00 and travel time is approximately 19 hours.

Dumaguete to Zamboanga 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 Zamboanga City depending on your budget and time. The cheapest option is to take the Oceanjet fast craft that sails from Dumaguete directly to Dapitan for P520.00 (one way). From Dapitan, take a bus going to nearby Dipolog City 14 kilometers away. From there, travel overland to Zamboanga City aboard the Rural Transit. The cost of the bus fare is about P500.00 (one way) and travel time is approximately 8 hours.

→ 16 CommentsTags: Mindanao

Las Piñas City: “Home of the Bamboo Organ”

August 21st, 2014 · 1 Comment

Las Piñas City

Las Pinas MapOne of the earliest settlements in the coastal fringes of the old Walled City of Manila, Las Piñas City is bounded on the south and southwest by the municipalities of Imus and Bacoor in Cavite; on the north and northeast by Parañaque City; on the east and southeast by Muntinlupa City; and, on the northwest by the Manila Bay.

In 1775, this small fishing village was established into a town by the Spanish colonialists. During the Philippine Revolutionary War for Independence in 1896 Las Piñas was the site of numerous battles between the Katipunan and Spanish forces. There are quite a few schools of thought on the origin of the city’s name, but the most plausible is a theory based on an inscription on an old church bell dating back to the time of Fr. Diego Cera which shows that the town was then known as Las Peñas. The phrase “las peñas,” which means “the rocks,” referred most likely to the stones and adobe that were quarried in the area for the construction of bridges and buildings during those days. As the years went by, the phrase “las peñas” could have easily been corrupted to “las piñas” which is in use up to this day.

One cannot think about Las Piñas City without the world renowned Bamboo Organ coming to mind. Presently installed at the St. Joseph Church of the Parish of Las Piñas, this musical instrument made out of bamboo, wood and metal is the only organ of its kind in the world. It was built in 1824 by Fr. Diego Cera, the town’s first parish priest and is famous not only for the indigenous materials used in its construction, but for this unique instrument’s deep, melodious sound as well.

Las Piñas is a late bloomer, emerging from its rural cocoon in the late 60s with the construction of the South Super Highway. In the mid-80s, progress in this 4,154-hectare city went along at a faster clip when the Coastal Road was constructed directly linking Metro Manila to Cavite. By the early 90s, Las Piñas was serving as the gateway to the Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon industrial growth corridor. Eventually, this once rustic coastal town transformed into a booming urban city of large industries and residential subdivisions. In 2002, it was named one of the country’s “Most Competitive Cities” together with Makati, Marikina, Muntinlupa and Davao cities.

What to See in Las Piñas

Although Las Piñas City is 20 kilometers from the heart of the City of Manila, it has been swallowed up by the huge urban sprawl that is Metro Manila. Nonetheless, the city has kept its own individual character and remains to be the favored stop of visitors because of its attractions that are unique and distinctly Filipino.

The Bamboo Organ: This rare and unique musical instrument can be found inside the St, Joseph Church of the Parish of Las Piñas. Fr. Diego Cera, its first parish priest, constructed the organ in 1824 using hundreds of bamboo poles that he buried in the beach sand for one year so that these will resist termite infestations. The organ is admired not only for its construction, but for its melodious sound as well. Ancient though it is, the organ is still working and is still in use up to this day. That is why it becomes the center of attention when the city celebrates the Bamboo Organ Festival during the month of February which attracts many music artists all over the world.

Sarao Jeepney Factory: Dubbed as the “King of the Road,” the ubiquitous jeepneys that ply the roads of Metro Manila and in the provinces are a testament to the ingenuity of the Filipino. Las Piñas is the acknowledged jeepney producing center of the country, and the Sarao Jeepney Factory owned by Leonardo Sarao is the recognized pioneer and leader in the industry. Your trip to Metro Manila will not be complete without visiting this vehicle assembly plant located along Padre Diego Cera Ave., Pulanglupa to witness how these works of art on four wheels are made.

Salt Beds: The distinction “Salt Center of Metro Manila” used to be held by Las Piñas—until the construction of the Coastal Road and land reclamation project in Manila Bay severely affected the industry. However, through the initiatives of local government leaders, the salt beds of Las Piñas were restored giving visitors the chance to see the traditional method of salt-making and harvesting the way the people in this historic place have been doing it for the past two centuries.

Where to Eat in Las Piñas

While Las Piñas has retained some vestiges of its rural setting, it does not lack in modern facilities that would address the needs of its residents and visitors. Its modern malls are filled with recreational and food establishments where one can obtain reasonably priced food and entertainment, such as:

Dencio’s Bar and Grill: Located at the 2nd level of Star Mall Las Piñas along C.V. Starr Ave. in Pamplona, this food establishment provides excellent Filipino and grilled seafood and music entertainment at very reasonable prices.

Barrio Fiesta Restaurant: When you think of Filipino dishes, Barrio Fiesta invariably comes to mind. Luckily, this popular restaurant now has a branch at the 3rd level of SM Southmall located at Alabang-Zapote Road. So, when you are in the vicinity, why not check out its special kare-kare in thick peanut sauce served in an authentic bubbling palayok (earthen pot).

Ted’s La Paz Batchoy: If you want a quick, hot, filling meal why not step into this joint located at the Ground Level of SM Southmall. Order a large bowl of its extra super original La Paz batchoy and a plate of puto (rice cakes), then wash it down with a glass of ice cold tea. This heavy meal is guaranteed to keep you going for the rest of the day.

Where to Stay in Las Piñas

Balikbayan Vacation Home: Located in a middle class gated community, this B&B establishment is centrally located to the Alabang Town Center, Madrigal Business Center and has easy access to major road arteries leading to the Metro Manila and Calabarzon areas. It has two air conditioned rooms, one bathroom with hot water, cable TV, in-room ref, living room, dining room and well equipped kitchen. One of the bedrooms has a queen size bed and two single beds in the other. All these conveniences for a rate of USD50.00, or P2,000.00 converted at current forex rates.

23 Leo Street
Veraville Homes I Subdivision
Las Pinas, Philippines
Tel. No.: 951-698-0873 (US)
Toll Free: -011-639293442669(PH)

Eurotel: Provides the elegant service and ambiance of a European hotel at a cost you can afford. With rates starting at P1,975.00 guests will enjoy air conditioned rooms, wi-fi connection, bar and café, 24-hr. room service and free valet parking.

Alabang – Zapote Road (in front of SM Southmall)
Alamanza Uno, Las Piñas City
Tel: (63-2) 805-0095; 806-7646
Fax: (63-2) 800-3876

How to Get to Las Piñas

Manila to Las Piñas and Back: The Coastal Road that runs throughout the southern length of Metro Manila’s shoreline with Manila Bay is a very important artery for people commuting to and from Manila to Las Piñas and Cavite. You can get to Las Piñas on buses from Taft Avenue in Manila bound for Zapote or Cavite and just tell the conductor to inform you when to get off. Approximate bus fare will not exceed P50.00.

Cebu to Las Piñas and Back: To reach Las Piñas 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 Pier Area in Manila, you can take a jeepney or hop into a taxi cab and ask the driver to take you to Taft Avenue. From there take a bus bound for Zapote of Cavite. The taxi fare from the Pier Area to Taft Avenue is about P100.00-P150.00, while the jeepney fare is cheaper at P7.50. The bus fare to Las Piñas will not exceed P50.00. If your point of disembarkation is the Manila Domestic Airport, take a taxi cab up to Roxas Boulevard then board the bus bound for Zapote or Cavite. The taxi fare is about P100.00 while the bus fare to Las Piñas will not exceed P50.00.

Dumaguete to Las Piñas and Back: To reach Las Piñas 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, hop on a taxi cab up to Roxas Boulevard and take the bus bound for Zapote or Cavite. The taxi fare is about P100.00 while the bus fare to Las Piñas will not exceed P50.00.

→ 1 CommentTags: Metro Manila

Expat Medical Care in the Philippines

August 20th, 2014 · No Comments

To live in another country outside of your own is such a challenging venture. You need to pay attention anew to important factors that will make your living comfortable. One of the earliest concerns for expatriates in the Philippines is medical care.

For expats to earn stability, they need to insure their health needs. Mostly, international medical insurances do the trick. The local insurance industry is mostly geared to serve the interests of the country’s local citizens. International companies, on the other hand, cover the needs of expats.

Every medical insurance company that serves the expats is generally focused on the particular needs based on the country’s setting. If you already maintains a medical care plan in your home country, your cost would be cut in half as you may avail of n insurance whose coverage is your host country.

Expat medical care in the Philippines usually involves the same thing – outpatient and inpatient care, plus added benefits for maternal and dental needs. Expats who are not accustomed to their host country’s way of life usually need periodical check-ups to ensure that they are adjusting well to the climate and the surroundings. That is what they will need the outpatient care benefits of their insurance. The inpatient aspect, on the other hand, is intended for accidental confinements and hospital needs. Aside from those two main features, the expat could choose to add more benefits to be covered by his medical care plan, which comes with additional charges as well.

Choosing your medical care plan is really all up to your needs, requirements, and preferences. Every insurance plan is unique in itself in terms of its coverage. If all that you need is something that will cover your standard health expenses, you will most likely get a cheaper plan. Since you can never be sure of what lies ahead, it would be ideal to take in few added benefits that zoom in to your comfort zone.

Expats seeking medical coverage in their host country must read and understand the fine prints of their insurances before they even sign up. Ask all the questions that come to mind, especially the hospitals and doctors covered by the plan. Expat insurance plans in the Philippines are mostly not limited in terms of doctors and hospitals. But just to be safe, you must get this factor crossed out – including all the other concerns that you may have — so they do not add to your mind’s worries.

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The Exciting Dive Sites in Camiguin

August 20th, 2014 · 1 Comment

Diving in Camiguin Island

Camiguin is an island located in the Northern Mindanao region. It is a volcanic island that has a shape of a pear. Camiguin MapThere are several dive sites in Camiguin Island, which makes it one of the diving destinations of the Philippines.

The Kantaan dive site in Camiguin is for advanced divers. Hard corals are abundant in this dive site. Fields of Acropora Coral and Lettuce Coral beautifies the seascape. Schools of aquarium fishes swim around these waters in Camiguin. Under the coral tables, you can see stingrays and white-tips sleeping. The Kantaan dive site is for divers who love high-speed drifts.

The Cabuan Point is a dive site where the marine, terrain, and coral life is considered as the microcosm of all dive sites in Camiguin. There are fields of branching hard corals, growths of green tree corals, dendronepthya corals, and various sizes of gorgonians. Fishes like purple and orange anthias, fusiliers, red coral groupers, Napoleon Wrasse, and sweetlips are swimming freely in this dive site in Camiguin.

The Burias Shoal of Camiguin is pretty exciting. The stiff current is good only for advanced divers. The black coral forests are good hiding places for black snappers and long nosed emperors. Shoals of tuna and schools of jacks swirl around. This dive site in Camiguin also has coral bommies covered with orange anthias and luscious soft corals.

The slope and wall of Jigdup are also good dive sites in Camiguin. The slope is considered as the home of the maroon and leather dendronephtya corals. The wall has huge patches of anemones. The crevices, seafans, and overhangs are waiting to be explored by divers in Camiguin.

The Old Volcano dive site in Camiguin is a base of an extinct volcano. The hardened lava has turned into a beautiful reef. Many varieties of fish and corals are found here with turtles munching at sponges.

Mantigue is a small island near Camiguin and is also a good dive site. The Mantigue Island Sanctuary is a great dive site for novices. There is a diversity of macro critters with clownfishes in different varieties. Other fish species are also present in this dive site. You can find some turtles on the rocky protrusions resting there.

The Mantigue Crack is a crack within the coral formations of Black Coral Trees. This crack is filled with snappers, cardinalfish, sweetlips, and drummers. Myriads of clownfish can be found within their host anemones.

The Mantigue Whip is a dive site that has a sandy slope. If you look hard into the sand, you’ll find some stingrays dueling. Lots of fish species are found in this dive site due to the dense forest of Black and Whip Corals.

Camiguin may be a small island but it has a lot to offer to both local and foreign divers. The dive sites in Camiguin Island will give every diver an adrenaline rush and exciting high-speed drifts.

→ 1 CommentTags: Diving

Tagaytay City: Center of Spiritual Retreat

August 20th, 2014 · 21 Comments


TagaytayThe crisp cool air blowing in from the sea that greets you as you step out of your vehicle is a welcomed and exciting prelude to the spectacular views that you will most likely never see elsewhere in the world. Perched on the highest point of Cavite Province 2,500 feet above sea level, Tagaytay is some 56 kilometers south of Manila overlooking Taal Volcano and Taal Lake on the south, Manila Bay on the north and Laguna de Bay on the east.

Tourism is one of Tagaytay City’s pillars of growth. Because of its proximity to the National Capital Region, it presents the perfect getaway for urbanites seeking respite from the pressures of work, and to momentarily escape the sweltering heat of Metro Manila. The cool weather, foggy evenings and early morning mists that perk up the fresh unpolluted air and the lush greenery framed against the gentle rolling slopes present a simple rustic appeal conducive to meditation and contemplation. Because of this, Tagaytay is a renowned “Center for Spiritual Retreat” because of the numerous training seminars, conventions and retreats that are regularly held in the more than 60 religious convents, seminaries, congregational houses, retreat and convention centers in the city.

Tagaytay City in the Province of Cavite has always been associated with Taal Volcano which is located about 20 kilometers away in the Province of Batangas. This association is not attributed to their proximity to each other, but rather on the visibility of one to the other. Because of its geographical orientation, height and location, Tagaytay gives the best perspective and spectacular view of the world’s smallest but most temperamental volcano as it sits on the placid Taal Lake. The lake is an enigma by itself because it is a lake within an island within a lake. On a clear day, your eyes would be able to see as far north as Manila Bay and discern the outlines of Laguna de Bay on the east. At night, you would see pinpoints of lights coming from fishing boats on the lake down below giving an illusion of an upside down starry sky.

During the Philippine Revolutionary War for Independence in 1896, the dense forest covered ridges of Tagaytay served as a secret route for Katipunan freedom fighters crossing from Cavite and the northern provinces into Batangas and Laguna and vice versa. In the last days of the Pacific War, US 11th Airborne and 8th Army paratroopers were air dropped in the very same area to meet up with Filipino guerillas and launch the pincer offensive for the liberation of Manila. This secret forest ridge passage of Tagaytay that facilitated travel to and from the northern and southern provinces was termed in Tagalog as “mananagaytay,” which means “to traverse the ridges.”

What to See and Do in Tagaytay

The first order of the day for visitors upon arriving in Tagaytay is to admire the magnificent view of the world famous volcano. Many hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, bars and picnic grooves with a good panoramic view of Taal Volcano line the Tagaytay ridge. But other than that, the city also offers other attractions such as religious and historic sites that are more or less similar to what you have already seen in other parts of the country. The city offers other activities to the Nature lover, quite unlike what you would find in other cities outside Tagaytay.

Ilog Maria Bee Farm: This place is the most famous bee farm in the country where you would re-learn the little things that you have always taken for granted—like how busy little bees make the delicious honey that sweetens your brewed coffee or spread on your breakfast pancake. The bee farm features a small shop where you could purchase bottles of honey at very reasonable prices as well as scented candles and other souvenir items.

Tagaytay Flower Farms and Pineapple Plantations: Your visit to this unique cool city will never be complete unless you see the interesting flower farms that line the Tagaytay ridge. The bustling cut flower industry of Tagaytay supply the flower needs of Metro Manila and give Baguio City a run for its money in so far as cut flowers are concerned. The cool weather, abundant rainfall and well-drained topographical features of Tagaytay provide excellent conditions for the extensive cultivation of sweet juicy pineapples. Make a detour to one of these plantations and see vast stretches of pineapples that rival those you would find in Hawaii.

Roadside Fruit Stalls: On your way back to Manila, do not forget to stop at the fruit stalls that line the highway a short distance from the Tagaytay rotunda and buy reasonably priced tropical fruits that are not readily available in Metro Manila. Here, you can gorge on mangoes, pineapple and sweet chiquita bananas without having to worry about how to lose weight after your vacation.

Where to Eat in Tagaytay

Leslie’s: One of the favorite spots in Tagaytay is this restaurant that offers superb Filipino food that goes quite well with the ambiance and magnificent view of Taal Volcano. A stringed quartet goes around the tables to serenade diners enjoying the food and scenery. Try its tanigue hot off the grill, steaming bulalo soup and fresh coconut juice served on the shell–but be sure to quickly chow these down because the cool winds blowing in from the wide veranda on the overlooking ridge will cool down your food pretty fast.

Viewsite Restaurant: Offers a nice view of Taal Volcano and Taal Lake which complement its delicious but affordable food. An acoustic group that also goes around renders your most favorite requested songs. Especially recommended are its fried and crunchy tawilis, tender bulalo steak, salted eggs and grilled eggplants.

Gourmet Farm and Café: Take a guided tour around a huge vegetable farm that grows healthy organic vegetables just a short distance from Tagaytay. If you want a taste of freshly harvested organic veggies, step into the Gourmet Café located in the building standing right in front of the farm. Start out with a heaping plate of fresh healthy salad to perk up your appetite for the different food recipes on the menu.

Where to Stay in Tagaytay

Royal Taal Inn: This hotel offers outstanding bargain for all the modern conveniences and exhilarating views. All rooms have their own private balcony and sitting area and were specifically designed have wide windows to better give a spectacular view of Taal Volcano. Standard rooms feature air conditioning, IDD/NDD telephone, private toilet and bath, satellite TV–and for only P1,950.00, you can have all these for the night.

Calamba Road
Barangay Iruhin Central
Tagaytay City
Tel. No.: (+6346) 413-1335; (046) 435-1066

Tagaytay Country Hotel: Tucked away in the lush green Tagaytay countryside, this excellently appointed hotel offers all the comforts of your home away from home. For starting rates of P3,000.00, standard rooms feature air conditioning just in case the misty evening breeze is still not enough to cool you off during those extra warm summer nights, cable TV, a mini bar, IDD/NDD telephone, and hot and cold shower.
Olivarez Plaza
E. Aguinaldo Hi-way
Tagaytay City

Taal Vista Lodge Hotel: If you want to splurge on a 5-star luxury hotel in the heart of Tagaytay, then this place is right for you. All rooms have standard cable TV; IDD/NDD telephone; in-room vault; coffee/ tea maker; mini bar; a spectacular view of Taal Volcano and verdant gardens. Room rates start at a hefty P6,500.00 per night.

Km. 60, Aguinaldo Hi-Way
Tagaytay City
Tel. No.: (632) 886-4325; (6346) 413-1000

How to Get to Tagaytay

Manila to Cavite and Back: Tagaytay is about an hour and a half drive from Manila via the Coastal Road. Crow buses at Makati and BLTB buses at Pasay terminal station bound for Tagaytay, Nasugbu or Balayan in Batangas will take you to Tagaytay City. Estimated one way bus fare is P100.00 – P150.00. However, a safer and more convenient way to travel to Tagaytay and see its sights is to hire a van or mini SUVs called “FX” for P2,000.00 to P2,500.00 inclusive of driver, gasoline and tolls. At this rate, you will have the vehicle all for yourself the whole day. If you need to stay in the city for the night, the rate goes down to P1,000.00 for each succeeding day depending on how well you can haggle with the vehicle owner.

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

Dumaguete to Tagaytay and Back: To reach Tagaytay from Dumaguete, you can fly from Dumaguete to the Manila Domestic Airport in Pasay City. Approximate 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 Tagaytay from Manila.

→ 21 CommentsTags: Luzon

Moalboal: A Haven for Divers

August 20th, 2014 · No Comments

Moalboal is a town in Cebu City, Philippines that became famous because of the beautiful dive spots found in the waters of the area. cebu mapA lot of local and foreign divers visit Moalboal to experience great dives. A favorite dive spot in Moalboal is Pescador Island, a small island near Moalboal. The steep walls along Pescador Island’s coast are among the Philippines’ best dive sites. The beautiful and untouched marine life of Pescador Island makes it really popular.

The rocky cliffs of Pescador Island have a mass of overhangs and caverns and the popular one is the Pescador Cathedral. It is a huge underwater cavern with a 15 meters wide funnel that descends down to 35 meters.

Divers in Pescador Island usually encounter white tip sharks. Hammerhead sharks will appear occasionally. Schools of pelagics will surround the divers in Pescador Island. A beautiful coral garden thrives in the shallow parts of Pescador Island.

Moalboal has a dive spot called the House Reef. It is an artificial reef at 3 meters to 40 meters deep in the waters of Moalboal. Divers can go dive in the House Reef at daytime or nighttime. Even though the House Reef is an artificial reef, huge schools of traveleyes are making their home in the House Reef together with tunas and mackerels. Whale sharks can also be seen in the House Reef of Moalboal.

Moalboal has also a dive spot called the Sunken Island. Sunken Island is an underwater pinnacle, which has a summit of 25 meters below the water surface. This dive spot is for experienced divers only because of the strong water currents. The Sunken Island is a favorite place for underwater photographers. Various sizes of lion fish are found in the Sunken Island. Frogfish, spanish dancers, pelagics, jacks and tuna, grouper and snapper, barracuda, mackerel, blue triggerfish, and occasionally, sharks and manta rays are found in the Sunken Island of Moalboal.

Moalboal has another dive spot called Airplane Wreck. The Airplane Wreck is a two-seater airplane that was made as an artificial reef in Moalboal. It is a joint project of government and non-government organizations of Cebu City in the Philippines. The Airplane Wreck has the same characteristics like that of a real coral reef and is a great site for wreck diving. This environment friendly project in Moalboal has now become the home of a number of marine animals.

The following dive spots also surround Moalboal: Tongo Point, Tuble, White Beach, Ronda Bay Marine Park, and Badian Island. And there are still other dive spots in Moalboal that offers a superb diving experience.

From the Mactan International Airport in Cebu, Philippines, Moalboal is a two-and-a-half hour drive. Within the town of Moalboal, a lot of diving resorts offer services to the visiting divers. Accommodation and food is not a problem while experiencing the beautiful dive spots in Moalboal.

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Batangas: Industrial Port City of CALABARZON

August 20th, 2014 · 9 Comments

Batangas City

An important seaport and trading center, Batangas City has the largest seaport in the CALABARZON Region (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon) that would rival the international seaport of Singapore. The primary entry point of goods coming from the Southern portion of the country and elsewhere in the world is the Batangas International Port, which is an alternate port of Manila. Right now, this coastal city is classified as a Regional Growth Center and has been reported as one of the country’s top performing “mid-sized cities” by various institutions like the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center, United States Agency for International Development, Asia Foundation and the German Technical Cooperation

This first class coastal city lies in a cove at the southeastern portion of the Province of Batangas approximately 112 kilometers south of the City of Manila. It is bounded on the north by the municipality of San Jose; on the northwest by the municipality of San Pascual; on the east by the municipalities of Ibaan, Lobo and Taysan; and, on the south by Batangas Bay.

Batangas City started as a settlement in 1581 along the banks of the Calumpang River, where plenty of large logs called “batang” by the native settlers were afloat. Because of this, they called their settlement “Batangan,” which was modified to “Batangas” in 1601. It has been the capital and administrative center of the province since 1754, and in 1969, it was made into a city by Republic Act No. 5495.

Long before the arrival of the Spaniards, Batangas was already a large thriving population center that carried on trading activities with China since the Yuan Dynasty until the first phase of the Ming Dynasty as well as with Japan and India in the 13th up to the 15th centuries. Many Batangueños trace their roots to ten Bornean datus and their people who sailed across the seas to Panay Island then all the way down to Lake Taal where they set up a Malay settlement that spread further down to Lipa, Balayan and Batangas. Archeological discoveries in Batangas reveal a high level of civilization with Bornean and Indian influence reflected in ancient pottery as well as evidence of the existence of a religion.

When Batangas is mentioned, what immediately comes to mind is its most famous product—the “balisong,” or fan knife, one of the ancient weapons of the mystic art of Kali dating back to 800 AD. Balisong means “broken horn” derived from the Tagalog words “bali,” meaning broken and “sungay” which means ”horn” referring to the handle which is made of a water buffalo’s horn. The sharp blade is made of tempered steel that folds back into its handle, making it extremely portable–and deadly. Anecdotes abound that one should never cross a Batangueño because he always carries the deadly knife in his pocket. But if you immerse yourself into the culture of Batangas, you would find the Batangueños warm and hospitable right down to the core. More often than not, if you are their guest, they will feed you more than what they eat and would greatly appreciate any effort that you make just to be one of them.

Because the province is located in the so-called “coconut country” composed of Laguna, Batangas and Quezon, where the raw material for making the famed 90% proof “Lambanog” abounds, most Batangueños—both men and sometimes, women, are fond of drinking this local version of moonshine juice. Sugar is also aplenty in the city because of the presence of the biggest sugar refinery in the Philippines. After a particularly heavy drinking session, Batangueños love to sip a steaming cup of strong brewed coffee called “kapeng barako,” or “stud coffee.” Batangas used to be the largest coffee producer in Asia, and steps are currently being taken to increase production to regain that title.

What to See and Do in Batangas

If you are in Batangas and don’t dip into the sea or lake, you have certainly wasted your trip because you have just missed seeing one of the most spectacular underwater worlds you will never find anywhere on the planet.

Anilao: Just a few kilometers from the city is the municipality of Anilao located on the west side of Calumpan Peninsula approximately 20 kilometers west of Batangas City. The dive sites which are ideal for observing marine life are concentrated on the southwest side of the peninsula and the northwest point of Maricaban Island. For the more adventurous, night dives are unmatched for the number of unusual creatures that you will see. The best dive site in this place is the coral-covered cathedral which is particularly spectacular at night. And, if you would like to see real pretty coral gardens and a vertical wall, try Sepok, which one of the most fantastic dives in the area.

Taal Volcano and Taal Lake: The center piece of attraction of the Southern Tagalog Region is Taal Volcano and Taal Lake in Batangtas. The volcano is the world’s smallest, yet is known to be temperamental. What makes it one of the wonders of the world is that the volcano is within an 8.8-kilometer islet that is within a 27-kilometer lake inside the crater of an extinct volcano. The volcano which is ideal for trekking by the adventurous nature-lover is accessible by boat from the towns surrounding the lake. If you feel up to it, you can rent a kayak, catamaran or a small sailing dinghy and take the family kayaking or sailing on placid Taal Lake.

Go on a 4X4 Adventure: A great way to enjoy Nature up close and personal is to get off the well trodden path and blaze your own trail through the streams and jungles of Taal Island aboard a 4×4 which can be rented in many places around Batangas.

Where to Eat in Batangas

Batangas is in a country where people eat at least five times a day. On a regular day, Filipinos go on a ritual of five small but delicious meals starting with a heavy breakfast followed by a morning merienda, or 10AM snack; lunch; afternoon merienda, or 4 PM snack; and, ending with dinner. Because of the Filipino’s propensity to eat, different food establishment abound in Batangas ranging from fine dining to fast food to low-end eateries that offer a variety of food recipes culled from the Philippines’ rich mix of Oriental and Western cultures.

Robusta Bar And Pastorelli at Hotel Pontefino: These two restaurants at the Hotel Pontefino reinvent local Filipino dishes to suit the global palate of the expat who misses real international cuisine or a balikbayan who craves for the best Filipino specialty dishes. When you are in Batangas try these restaurants and ask for any of the following specialties: Juicy and tender Batangas Bulalo best served with Indian black rice; Binangeng na Maliputo, a species of fish freshly caught from the fresh waters of Taal Lake seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled over lava rocks; Sinaing na Tulingan in Pasta, a cross between the favorite dish of the common folk which shredded steamed tuna combined with pasta, olive oil, shrimps and button mushrooms; and, Adobong Puti, a delicious pork recipe that is braised in vinegar, pepper and fish sauce.

The Tree House Restaurant: If you are cruising on the highway going down to the new Batangas Port, keep your eyes peeled on the right side of the road for this unique restaurant that offers both local and international cuisine. There is a tree house, actually a “kubo” or hut, and a mini zoo with a small collection of birds and animals. Some popular local delicacies is the “tawilis,” or “Sardinella tawilis” a species of freshwater sardine that is endemic to Taal Lake, that are freshly caught, fried and served crisp; Fried Longganisa (pork sausage), Tapang Taal (beef jerky) and Atchara (pickled veggies); and, Kilawin, (similar to the Japanese sashimi) fresh fish soaked in vinegar, lemon with lots of chopped onions, garlic and pepper which goes well with a cold glass of Colt 45 or Red Horse beer or if you are lucky enough, a shot of 90% proof Lambanog while waiting for your food. You can cap that heavy meal with a steaming hot cup of “kapeng barako” or “stud coffee” and feel like a real honest to goodness Batangueño.

Jollibee: If you are on a hurry or would like to chow down a quick budget meal, you can grab a seat in one of the most popular fast food chains in the country. There is a Jollibee at the SM Mall with its ubiquitous bee logo. It is more popular among Filipinos because its food was specifically prepared to meet their taste. Why don’t you try its fried chicken, which is very similar to Mac Donald except that the gravy is a bit sweeter and spicier.

Where to Stay in Batangas

The reputation of Batangas as a destination and as a jump-off point to Puerto Galera and other parts South has resulted in the growth of hotels and a number of bungalows and resorts that offer rest and recreation at ridiculously low prices by international standards. Whether you are a Metro Manila urbanite out for a weekend of fun, a tourist or investor checking out the city’s industrial parks, you will find accommodations to meet your everyday needs.

Hotel Pontefino: This is the newest boutique hotel in Batangas City which offers the comforts of a Filipino home and the luxury of an elegant hotel. After your activities for the day, you will sleep soundly in any of its premium room or suite which feature air conditioning, telephone, cable TV, coffee/ tea maker, room safe and Internet access for only P4,100.00 converted at current forex rates.
Pastor Village, Gulod Labac
Batangas City

Days Hotel Batangas: The hotel’s well-appointed standard rooms are patterned after world class quality Guests will enjoy the following amenities at a cost of only P3,950.00: Air conditioning; Ref; cable TV; NDD/IDD telephone; modem lines in room; in-room safe; alarm clock; and, hairdryer.

Pastor Village, Pallocan West
Batangas City
Tel. No. : (6343) 980-7321
Fax No. : (6343) 980-8338

Avenue Pension House: If you are traveling on a budget, you don’t have to sleep in an ordinary poorly-maintained flophouse. Avenue Pension House is an out of the ordinary well-maintained pension house that provides superior accommodations at a cost of only P550.00 to P750.00.

30 J.P. Rizal Avenue
Batangas City
Tel. No.: (043) 723-6931 to 36

How to Get to Batangas

Manila to Batangas and Back: Batangas is about 2 ½ to 3 hours from Manila by bus or car. The commercial busses that ply the route are BLTB, JAM, Tritran, Batangas Express Liner, Triftman Liner, Binan Trans., ALPS and CJC Transit which pick up passengers at Pasay terminal, Plaza Lawton in Manila or Cubao Bus Terminals. The bus fare is about P350.00 to P500.00.

Cebu to Batangas and Back: To reach Batangas 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. Once you disembark at the Manila Domestic Airport or Pier Area, it is best to take a taxi cab and ask to be taken to Pasay Bus Terminal or Plaza Lawton where you can take the bus bound for Batangas. The taxi fare is approximately P200.00.

Dumaguete to Batangas and Back: To reach Batangas from Dumaguete, you can fly from Dumaguete to the Manila Domestic Airport in Pasay City. From the airport, flag a taxi cab and ask to be taken to Pasay Bus Terminal where you can hop on a bus bound for Batangas. The taxi fare is approximately P200.00.

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