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The Enchanting and Beautiful Dive Sites of Anilao

September 24th, 2014 · No Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Safety in Public Transport Vehicles

September 24th, 2014 · No Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Diving in Cabilao: A Small Island’s Pride

September 24th, 2014 · 2 Comments

Diving in Cabilao

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pasay City: Cultural Center of Metro Manila

September 24th, 2014 · No Comments

Pasay City

Pasay MapOne of the four cities that originally comprised Metro Manila, Pasay is the third smallest city in the National Capital Region with an area of only 1,900 hectares. It is adjacent to the City of Manila and is bordered by the Manila Bay to the west, Makati and Taguig cities to the northeast and Paranaque City to the south.

Because of its close proximity to the City of Manila and access to Manila Bay, the city shares with the national capital a history and rich culture that dates back to pre-Hispanic times. Story has it that the city’s origin can be traced to the reign of Rajah Soliman who ruled Maynilad, a Muslim kingdom on the southern delta of the Pasig River. It is said that he married a Princess from Sumatra who bore him a son and a daughter—Prince Sowaboy and Princess Pasay. Prior to his death, Rajah Soliman divided his kingdom to his two heirs and the half that went to the princess was named Pasay.

Among the cities in Metro Manila, Pasay has the largest area earmarked and devoted to vital infrastructure and utilities. More half of its total land area, or 950 hectares, is occupied by Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the Manila Domestic Airport and Villamor Airbase. The city proper covers only about one-fourth of its land area, or 550 hectares because the balance of 400 hectares represents the area reclaimed from Manila Bay where the imposing Cultural Center Complex (CCP) is located.

What to See in Pasay

Pasay City is not known as the “Cultural Center of Metro Manila” for nothing because most of its attractions are at the CCP Complex. Located in this area which is devoted to the development and promotion of the arts, culture and trade are the Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas, Coconut Palace, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila Film Center, Philippine International Convention Center, World Trade Center-Metro Manila, Philippine Trade Training Center, Product Design and Development Center of the Philippines. The Cuneta Astrodome where sporting events and beauty pageants are held and theme parks such as Nayong Pilipino, Boom na Boom and Star City are located nearby. Popular destinations of visitors to Pasay are the following:

The Coconut Palace: Located along Eduardo A. Makabenta Street at the CCP Complex, this luxurious venue is a palace made of coconut lumber, coconut shells and various Philippine hardwood to celebrate the coconut as the “Tree of Life.” Literally every part of the coconut tree is used in the construction, design and ornaments of the Coconut Palace—from its trunk and roots to the bark, flower, fruit and shell.

Nayong Pilipino: Touted as the country’s one and only cultural park. Located along MIA Road, Nayong Pilipino presents the Philippines in miniature and showcases the rich cultural and natural heritage of the country through indigenous architectural styles, creative crafts, art and cultural presentations.

SM Mall of Asia: Located at the southernmost tip of EDSA inside the reclaimed area is the biggest shopping mall in the country and listed by Forbes magazine as the third largest in the world. Some of the main attractions the SM Mall of Asia are the first ever IMAX theater in the Philippines and an Olympic-sized skating rink, which is reputedly the biggest in Southeast Asia.

Where to Eat in Pasay

Cities that have so many attractions to offer like Pasay must be able to feed its multitude of visitors that flock to its tourist destinations every day. Restaurants, eateries and fast food chains in malls, tourist belts and cultural centers all compete for the attention and patronage of visitors: Among these are:

Singkit: Located at Harbor Square at the CCP Complex, this establishment offers authentic Chinese specialty food that is either delivered or served fresh and piping hot to dine-in patrons in charming take-out boxes, just like in New York. Popular orders are the classic chicken with quail eggs, mouth watering lechon Macau, the ubiquitous but sumptuous sweet and sour pork and yummy mixed vegetables and beef broccoli. A meal good for four people will cost a very reasonable P350.00.

Chef de Angelo: If you are into pasta, then this mid-range Italian restaurant is for you. Located on the 1st level at the Main Mall of the Mall of Asia, this joint offers salad, pizza and pasta. But if you are looking for a heavier meal, you can throw in an order for buffalo chicken wings priced at about P800.00 for an order good for five people.

Pink Pepper: Wrap up your visit with a gastronomical, albeit, a bit pricey experience at the Pink Pepper found at the Esplenade, Bayside at the Mall of Asia. An order of pepper steak with a dash of sweetish, mildly hot pink pepper after which this classy joint was named priced at around P430.00, or a nutritious salmon wrap costing P420.00 should not be eaten with your eyes shut to savor the food better, otherwise you will miss the golden splendor of the romantic Manila Bay sunset.

Where to Stay in Pasay

This metropolitan center of culture boasts of numerous hotel accommodations for visitors coming from all over the country and the throughout the world. These accommodations range from expensive elegant five-star hotels to unpretentious yet classy places for the budget conscious traveler. Examples are:

The Heritage Hotel: Located near the CCP Complex, theme parks and airport, this elegant place feature 467 tastefully appointed guest rooms that include coffee makers, complimentary newspapers and bottled water, cable TV, direct dial telephone, in-room safes and friendly, attentive staff. Room rates start at a hefty P5,635 for the visitor who want nothing but the best accommodations.

Roxas Boulevard corner EDSA
Pasay City
Tel.No. +1 800 1 11 0782 (international)

Traders Hotel Manila: Located right in front of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, this mid-range hotel offers internet connectivity, coffee/ tea maker, IDD/ NDD telephone, in-room locker, cable/satellite TV, in-house movie channels and mini-bar.

3001 Roxas Blvd.
Pasay City
Tel. Nos. +63(2) 523-7011 to 20

Kabayan Hotel: Located at the Pasay Rotonda a spitting distance from the MRT station along EDSA, this budget hotel offers a secure, functional and convenient accommodation. With room rates starting at USD47.00, or P1,880.00 converted at current forex rates, this budget hotel offers air conditioned rooms, cable TV, bedside control panel, mini-bar, private toilet and bath.

2878 Zamora Stree corner EDSA
Pasay City
Tel. No. (632)891-6452; 831-5152
E-mail :

How to Get to Pasay

Manila to Pasay and Back: The Light Rail Transit (LRT-1) is the fastest and cheapest way to get from Manila to Pasay. From its station in Monumento, the LRT traverses the Rizal Avenue Ext. in Caloocan going to the City of Manila all the way up to Pasay City in less than thirty minutes for less than P30.00

Cebu to Pasay and Back: To reach Pasay 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 cab to the LRT-1 station in Avenida Rizal and board the train going to Pasay. 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 train fare is less than P30.00.

Dumaguete to Pasay and Back: To reach Pasay 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.

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Zamboanga: Latin City of Asia

September 23rd, 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.

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Malapascua Island: The Home of Thresher Sharks

September 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

Diving in Malapascua

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Types of Expats Learning the Language and their Challenge

September 23rd, 2014 · 2 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Antipolo: The Pilgrimage City

September 23rd, 2014 · 8 Comments


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

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

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

What to see in Antipolo

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

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

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

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

Where to Eat In Antipolo

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

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

Sumulong Highway
Antipolo City, Rizal

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

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

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

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

Where to Stay in Antipolo

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

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

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

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

How to Get to Antipolo

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

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

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

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Insurance for Expats Living in the Philippines

September 23rd, 2014 · 3 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tagaytay City: Center of Spiritual Retreat

September 23rd, 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.

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