Blogging Bataan: Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

Part one of a two-part Bataan series

That week between Christmas and New Year’s is a great time to travel—little to no traffic, most are already on VLs anyway, great weather, and the overall atmosphere is just light and merry. However, and unfortunately for us, nothing major (major, major?) was penciled up so we had to settle for a day trip. Amidst the post-Christmas rush and mandatory family get-togethers, we found a date: December 27, 2015. The place: Bataan.

Why Bataan? Because Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. Maybe it got too much media mileage. Heck, even I—who on a good week will spend an absolute maximum of 2 hours on the ol’ tube—chanced upon a feature. A show with Drew Arellano, if I remember correctly. That and the recommendation of some titas from the missus’ side of the family, and it was a go.

Getting there

Simple: Waze the fuck it up. But okay, because people look up to me as a travel blogger (hihi), follow this: exit San Fernando, get past the Pampanga towns, then follow the signs. Seriously, it’s as easy as pie. What you need to know, though, is that the travel is pleasant and the roads are nice. Trust me. Bring your lowered car for crying out loud (wait, “stanced” na pala ngayon). All in all, the trip shouldn’t take you more than 4 hours.

Wait, commute ka lang? Ay, poor.

The place

Let me tell you what this place is all about. It’s old houses from different parts of the country taken down, transported and rebuilt piece by piece in this rich businessman’s spare lupa. Imagine the lengths these people had to go through. Why they did it? Who knows, but it sure makes for a good and one-of-a-kind attraction.

I chose this photo because it shows multiple houses. Unfortunately, panira yung catering.
Panira yung catering, but this is my only photo that shows multiple houses.

There are 10 or so houses there, most without any significant historical importance except that they’re really old. The houses have been turned into makeshift museums (featuring more old stuff) and Bahay sa Balete-like hotels. Seriously, you can rent anything there from a room to a whole multiple-room mansion (enough for a small company outing). Prices range from medyo mahal to outrageously expensive. We heard rates going up to PHP 300,000 per night for the biggest ones. Truth.

I think this one goes for 150,000/night.
I think this one goes for 150,000/night.

Walk-through

When you get to the place, park your car at the designated parking area which is just before the main entrance. There you will also find a small, unpretty registration booth where you pay the entrance fee. It’s around 600 for a day pass and around 1,200 (I think) for a day pass with buffet (tanginang blogger ito hindi manlang iresearch ang tamang fees). I suggest you get the one without the buffet; all the foods we saw inside were overpriced so I fear for the buffet being not sulit.

Entrance. Security is quite lax; I wonder if we could've over the bakod-ed.
Entrance. Security is quite lax; I wonder if we could’ve over-the-bakod-ed this up.

By the way, all of this is under the assumption that you’re not going to sleep there.

Ang laki. Lakad lang? Yari.
Ang laki. Lakad lang? Yari.

Okay, once inside, the only logical thing left to do is join a guided tour. Guided tours are scheduled every couple of hours or so so there’s no rush, and there’s no extra charge. It is, however, entirely by foot (but you can ride the free service jeep going back to the starting point once done). The tour is nothing but a house-to-house. The guides speak of mildy- to semi-interesting facts about each house—where it was originally from, the family that owned it, the condition they found it in, yada yada—but they will not skimp on letting you know of its nightly rate, the amenities and/or special features (such as a full-time butler), and if it’s available or not.

If you're up for the haunted vibe, by all means.
If you’re up for the haunted house vibe, by all means.

Word of advice: wear easy-to-remove footwear. Shoes are not allowed inside any of the houses. There are 14 houses.

Thoughts

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is one of those places wherein you can never take a bad picture. It’s kind of like Ilocos (or an old church). The houses are aliw to some extent, but most lack in historical significance to make you go “ooh”.

Bring your best photo-snapping gear.
Bring your best photo-snapping gear.

They have a small pool for the guests and the property is literally by the beach. The beach is okay, usable, and very long (both length and width), but is definitely not white. To my eyes they’re gray-brown.

Said swimming pool.
Said swimming pool.
That stretch of beach is mighty long.
That stretch of beach is mighty long.

Like I said, the snacks and drinks there are overpriced. Think Valkyrie prices. We did not get to try the buffet, but I’m quite happy (and relieved) with that decision.

They also have a gaming area. Me wanted to play so bad to relieve the pagod.
They also have a gaming area. Me wanted to play so bad to relieve the pagod.

A small tram that’s designed to go around the property is currently under development so that should be something to look forward to.

A huge plus if they can make it into an in-tram tour in the future.
A huge plus if they can make it into an in-tram tour in the future.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. We didn’t get to finish the guided tour. We also didn’t get to go inside all of the houses. The sun was super pasikat that day and for some reason, we all could not up our disposition to match the energy needed for all the walking, the removing of shoes, the wearing of shoes, the taking of pictures, etc. (well, except for my wife, maybe). Every time we’d encounter a big shaded tambayan, we’d stop for 10-20 minutes. Look, we’re not an old group; the aggregate current age of our group would probably fall in the mid-twenties. But it was so painfully gruesome. It’s like having all this magnificent architecture surrounding you but not having the energy to enjoy all of it. Weird.

Lilim. Pagod. Tambay.
Lilim. Pagod. Tambay.

It’s a good place. It’s a testament to one man’s love for old Filipino-Spanish architecture (as per research, a certain Gerry Acuzar). Being beside the ocean is a plus. The location is excellent; I love the fact that you have to reserve a day/road trip for it. Transforming it into a business is a necessity (for maintenance costs) but it takes away from the authenticity of the experience in a kind of “sellout” way, even though it is quite understandable.

Vantage point from one of the houses near the edge of the property looking towards the front.
Vantage point from one of the houses near the edge of the property looking towards the front.

Overall: Recommended.

Phone camera. Seriously.
Phone camera. Seriously.

P.S. By the way, you will not need an entire day for this. We were still able to visit another attraction—Mount Samat National Shrine—so watch out for that on the next post.

P.P.S. Shared Bataan gallery will be created when I finish the Mount Samat post.

 

The feeling travel blogger blog post of 2015 continued

Part two of my 2015 travel compilation and super return of the comeback

Read the first part here.

Lubao International Balloon Festival 2015

March

Okay, what to say about this event-slash-day trip? Short and tiring, perhaps. I remember the need to be at the venue by 6:00 AM just so we can see the balloons pre-flight. I remember being promised a ride on one of the balloons only to realize later that even if it had happened—which is a long, long, long shot—it probably would’ve been the worst idea ever. Why? Because we’d end up in the middle of nowhere once the balloon runs out of steam (hot air?). Add to that its inherent lack of safety and/or life-saving plan B options in case something goes wrong.

6:24 AM. Imagine that. We probably left around 4:30 AM.
6:24 AM. Imagine that. We probably left around 4:30 AM.

I know now. This festival makes for great, colorful photos; you’d best unleash the photographer in you. It’s a good side trip; the events happen so fast that you’d be left with nothing else to do come 9:00 AM. The sun will burn you; bring loads of sunscreen and/or umbrellas. Bring a kite; the kite-flying conditions are perfect. Other than those, it’s a good 2-hour-tops drive from the metro (Lubao, Pampanga), and about an hour-and-a-half away from Subic.

The Vader and Yoda combo has got to be the crowd favorite.
The Vader and Yoda combo has got to be the crowd favorite.

I have decided to create a standalone gallery for this event because the photo colors are just so nice.

Privato is too hipster for its own good

April

Small lobby but super clean and chic (yes, chic).

There are two times in a year we’re sure to hotel it up: NYE and Holy Week. The latter is normally reserved for cheaper, boutique-style hotels that are enough to bring us comfort during itaga-mo-sa-batong-mangyayaring Maynilad holy week service interruptions.

super
Small lobby but super clean and chic (yes, chic).

Privato is a newish artsy-fartsy hotel along Shaw—a little before and opposite Capitol Commons/Ynares. It’s got a nice, modernistic, minimalist feel to it (I’m obviously not equipped to describe architectural things). Bottom line is it’s clean and stylish. The rooms are okay; the gym is small; the rooftop pool is small and cold. There’s also a restaurant with a nice overlooking view of the Kapitolyo area. Bonus when staying here: Kapitolyo hipster eats. (Look, I don’t really know what hipster means when describing people, let alone places, so whatever.)

View from said restaurant.
View from said restaurant.

Ark Avilon Zoo is barely a zoo

April

Let’s consider this a side note because this is just field trip for our baby’s summer class. I guess what I really want to say is, “Hey, there’s a small zoo in the Tiendesitas area that you probably do not know of. Check it out.” Bring your kids there. You’d be done in 2, 3 hours so there’s plenty of time to hit the Ortigas malls.

It is, of course, shaped like an ark.

Forget Ilocos, there’s Pililla Wind Farm

April

Ah, me likey. Thanks to my tito’s odd place of choice for spending his semi-retirement—Sitio Bugarin, Pililla, Rizal—we got to see this hidden, relatively unexplored gem. My tito has an up-the-bundok, farm-like place that’s literally a stone’s throw away from the first few windmills.

Very much underdeveloped (April 2015) but getting there.
Very much underdeveloped (April 2015) but getting there.

The place is still being developed and the windmills are not yet fully operational. We were able to get up close to some of the windmills, though, but there were areas we weren’t allowed to go to because of construction safety issues. By the way, to add to the whole haciendero experience, we commissioned local workhorses for the trek.

Even baby got her own horse; it's named Bluetooth (true story).
Even baby got her own horse; it’s named Bluetooth (true story).

I feel this is going to be somewhat of a road trip/day trip tourist spot in the near future. They’re just gonna have to develop the place with the public in mind, and maybe put up some restaurants. By the way, wind generators weren’t put up here for nothing. There’s an endless supply of nakakalunod na hangin everywhere. My uncle says it’s like that the whole year round, save for a couple of days during summer. Oh, and depending on your vantage point, you also get a super nice view of Laguna lake.

Check out the size of that mofo.
Check out the size of that mofo.

What’s not to like? The trip. You can reach the place two ways: via Laguna and via Antipolo. We went the Antipolo route because it’s significantly nearer. Unfortunately, you’re gonna have to traverse 2-3 hours of traffic, small, busy roads, palengkes, etc. so the travel is not that pleasant (for the driver).

View from my tito's balcony overlooking Laguna Lake (wish I took a photo outside the chicken wire, though).
View from my tito’s balcony overlooking Laguna Lake (wish I took a photo outside the chicken wire, though).

Side note 2: The Mind Museum

June

Hey look, check out The Mind Museum at BGC. It’s a must-visit if you have inquiring minds.

They have cool stuff like such.
They have cool stuff like such.

Nothing more to add. The place is cool and sulit.

Sea’s Spring Hotel Resort, Anilao, Batangas

June

Sea’s Spring. Sea’s Spring. What an odd, hard-to-pronounce name. Well, it’s Korean so there’s that. I just realized that I wasn’t really in blogger mode during this trip, so I don’t have review-like photos of the resort.

One of the islands (?) where we went snorkeling. I forget what it's called.
One of the islands (?) where we went snorkeling. I forget what it’s called.
Water's really clear, though.
Water’s really clear, though.

So, what is the main selling point of this resort? The hot springs, I guess. Yep, they have 3 (maybe 2) small pools of varying burn-your-skin hotness. That’s in addition to the two big ones with water slides. The resort is huge; it’s quite nice, to be honest, but the beach area ain’t no beach. Anilao is of course a diver’s haven so it’s not really know for its beaches. We did some island hopping and were able to do some snorkeling, but like I always say, once you’ve snorkeled (is that even a word?) in Mindoro, you’d be hard to impress.

Another gitna-ng-dagat snorkeling activity.
Another gitna-ng-dagat snorkeling activity.
One of the hot spring pools. Sorry, this is the only photo I have of the resort. (Uy, may seksi!)

Terrazas de Punta Fuego Gilid

October

Keyword: gilid. We did a beach/seaside-themed Halloween this year. It was my eldest sister’s birthday celebration (and treat) and it was meant to be Verzo clan reunion of sorts. Okay, why gilid? Because the rest house we stayed in was literally out of the boundaries of Punta Fuego. However, because it’s so gilid, there’s no other way of getting there except via their gate/property. You can clearly see the chicken wire bakod that divides the two.

Maganda naman, diba?
Maganda naman, diba?
Harap sa kaliwa.
Harap sa kaliwa.

Okay, so Terrazas Gilid is in Nasugbu. I have to say, I didn’t expect the beach there to be that nice—I’m really confused with all the Batangas beach areas and how it varies from super ugly to super nice. The rest house is nice too. It has 3 rooms and is made for a big family/group. I’m not sure how we got it, nor if it’s open to the public, but it sure looks quite exclusive.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 - making SLRs obsolete since 2015.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 – Making SLRs obsolete since 2015.
That's the dulo of Terrazas. The rest house is to the right.
That’s the dulo of Terrazas. The rest house is to the right (not in pic).
That's the house, yo.
That’s the house, yo.

Date sa Hong Kong

November

Finally, an out-of-the-country trip.

I have one life goal that goes as such: visit Hong Kong at least once a year. Hong Kong is just such an addicting place. It’s clean, orderly, small, cold (oh right, I don’t like HK during the hot months), foreign but not too foreign, near, etc. So there’s all that, but this trip was made even more special because ’twas a date of sorts for me any my wife—naks! Sundan na ‘yan!

Sa Giant Buddha. First time ko dito, actually.
Sa Giant Buddha. First time ko dito, actually.

Look, I don’t really want to blog about HK because there’s really nothing about it that hasn’t been written yet, so I’ve decided to do two things: (1) create a gallery photo blog, and (2) write a short editorial-like post on my realizations from this trip. When the second one will be finished, I do not know.

Click here for the Hong Kong mega photo blog.

Happy new year, bitches!

 

The feeling travel blogger blog post of 2015

Travel blogger ka ba? Sure.

How I wish I could make fun of travel bloggers but there are those who are really hardcore about it. And when you see their posts, it’s like, “Jesus, umuwi ka naman minsan!” Career talaga.

Any horse, I just want to post another update and the least I can think of is a travel compilation. Mind you, though, this is going to get a little boring at times. I just finished compiling the list of places we did this year and sadly, I may have to include Star City just to fill the page. Panalo.

Starting the year at Richmonde Hotel

2014-New Year’s Day

We are a hotel-staycation type of family. And because we’re so over firecrackers and fireworks (as in overly scared), we just see to it that we’re somewhere high enough to have a panoramic view of all the putukan action. We were lucky enough to get a corner room on the fronting-Megamall side, so we got to see the Chinese-Greenhills fireworks competition of whose-business-did-best-this-year.

Richmonde Hotel is quite old. You can easily tell by the condition of the carpets and upholstery of sofas and chairs. But overall, I guess it’s doing quite well for its age. Besides, four words more than make up for its minor shortcomings: heated indoor fucking pool.

Another good thing about Richmonde is you need not take your car out until checkout. You can walk to Megamall and Shang and buy anything you need or might need; there are also 7-Elevens, Family Marts, Mini Stops left and right.

For two nights on a two-queen room we spent about 10 grand which is really good (considering the dates).

I just realized that I didn't take much photos here. Here's the fambam enjoying the breakfast buffet.
I just realized I didn’t take much photos here. Here’s the fambam enjoying the breakfast buffet.

Star City — oh, yes

January

So nakakahiya. You know what? Who cares. Prior to this we haven’t actually been to the place—I’m sure I have as a child, but I really can’t remember. Star City is an okay place that you should go to once and get over with.

Two things that stuck with me on this trip: the Ferris wheel and the artificial snow thing (Snow World). However, the artificial snow thing, that is something else. As for the Ferris wheel, there’s nothing really special about it but I think I remember it because of the view—bay area Manila—which no other local Ferris wheel offers.

Yeah, doesn't really show much. Sorry for the poor cam-phone pics.
Yeah, doesn’t really show much. Sorry for the poor cam-phone pics.

Okay, let me tell you something about Snow World. It’s painfully brutally cold. Duh? No, you know nothing (John Snow!?). It should not be considered an attraction. It’s a fucking torture chamber. Yung sipon mo ba naman maging yelo. Saka yung anak ko, mangiyak-ngiyak na. Okay, maybe I exaggerate a little, but still. Look, I like cold—I’m aircon royalty, hello—and I have a high tolerance for it, but this is a different monster. Although sorry ha, I’ve never experienced real snow kasi.

On one of the kiddie rides. I guess I was to stressed to take a photo during the Snow World episode.
On one of the kiddie rides. I guess I was too stressed to take a photo during the Snow World episode.

Buena Vista Park and Country Club, Talisay, Batangas

February

This is one of those places no one will ever go to unless they’re from the area, or at least know someone who is. Case in point: the place is close to my wife’s family’s place in Batangas called Cale. It is quite a shame, though, because the place is neat and provides a great view of Taal. It’s just not close enough to Taal—or anything else, for that matter—to be a side trip. It reminds me a bit of Punta Fuego, but with much less houses.

We went there to celebrate the 85th birthday of the head lola of my wife’s family.

One of the house/cottages down there's where we stayed. Also, if you look closer you'll see one of the pools.
One of the house-cottages down there’s where we stayed. Also, if you look closer you’ll see one of the pools.
IMG_20150201_114821
There’s that nice view of Taal.

Paradizoo, help me make a stand

March

On our baby’s birthday, we wanted to go to Fun Farm at Santa Elena (as per the recommendation of my idol blogger and hot mama crush). They were booked crazy—I guess from all the mileage they got from blogs and stuff—so we had to find something else. Hence, Paradizoo.

Baby with Ate Sonya, who's also celebrating her birthday, by the way.
Baby and Ate Sonya. They share the same birthday, by the way, so this trip is also for her.

Paradizoo is a small zoo-cum-farm in Tagaytay. It’s close to the usual places and is very doable in half a day, so you can do that and visit whichever other Tagaytay attraction your heart desires after. It may be a small farm but do take the guided kalabaw tour anyway and spare yourself the walking exercise.

IMG_20150309_152558
That’s Danica the kalabaw and this is our view. She will have crapped 2-3 times until the end of the tour—something my baby still finds funny to this day.
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The little girl showing she ain’t scared of no butterflies.
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Gardens and stuff.
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They have statues like so.
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And hydroponic thingies.
IMG_20150309_161714
First time to see a pogi, this camel.
IMG_20150309_163332
When you see it. (Cow’s got an extra leg, okay?)
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Then there’s a pay-to-play playground. A final stop before leaving.
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Yeah, that’s too high for you, tum-tum.

I wish I can remember more things about this place but it’s freaking nine months already. Oh, there’s a small entrance fee and you can buy stuff like fresh goat’s milk.

Visiting Boracay as a tatay

Finally, a peaceful Boracay—one where there’s absolutely no pressure to go out at night and party. The only trade-off? The having to carry the baby. Yes, our daughter is at this weird age where she’s heavy but not too heavy to be carried, and walks but is a little too slow. So, being that I was with 4 girls, punctuality is not high on the priority list. Now, imagine rushing from our hotel in station 2 to the boat docks on station 1 just make it to our 10:30 AM island hopping tour. Tanggal-kamay fun.

Mi familia.

I want to mention two things about this Boracay trip: the annoying Astoria Boracay marketing tactic and helmet diving. The other events and/or places, well, they’re non-blogables.

boracay-2015_018
Mis hijas.
That annoying Astoria Boracay marketing tactic

Do you guys know what I’m talking about here? I’m sure many have been harassed by these people. If you’re lucky, you’ll encounter one of their marketing soldiers even before you ride the boat at the Caticlan Jetty Port. By the time you arrive at your hotel—especially if there’s some beachfront walking involved—you would’ve encountered at least 2-3 more of these Astoria people.

What they do to lure people to bite is to provide a free buffet meal. No strings attached, just a free meal. Imagine that. But because people are not necessarily dumb, it’s quite obvious that there’s a catch to it. If and when you accept the invitation—and you will—you up your defenses and promise yourself that you won’t give in to whatever they’re selling. And because you’re already a tad bit annoyed, you’re thinking, “Yeah, I’m gonna teach these people a lesson and waste their time and food.”

So you come to the buffet. A bit fancy; hotel style. Lots of food, the works. You eat with your peeps. For their troubles of filling your stomachs, you agree to listen to a short presentation. Keyword: short. Well, guess what? You just wasted 4 hours of your time. Yup, it’s fucking that long. That’s if you have no plans of buying anyway. Show some interest and it will get longer. If you bought, I’m sure you have wads of cash lying around and I won’t judge you.

Have you guys heard of Club Ultima? Same banana. Free hotel accommodation if you agree to hear out their presentation. What they’re selling are memberships to their exclusive hotel club; you use this membership to gain access and get discounts to hotels around the world which they have tie-ups with. These clubs are usually backed by some mildly successful hotel chain—e.g. Crown Regency for Club Ultima, and Astoria chain for whatever-the-fuck-club-name these Boracay people are part of. Truth be told, it’s probably a good deal. Heck, if people the likes of Manny Pacquiao are members, then thorough financial analyses must’ve happened. Har, har.

Helmet diving — I’m scurred

I’m not chicken when it comes to adventurous things. To tell you the truth, I did not hesitate one bit during the planning stages of this activity (I must’ve even pushed for it). My wife’s usually the one who’s reluctant to try these things and I’m the one who’s, “Sus.”

boracay-2015_084
Those helmets weigh like a ton each. Truth.

Look, it’s not scary. It’s just a bit uncomfortable. Way too uncomfortable. Helmet diving is having a super heavy helmet on you which acts as your personal air bubble under the sea. The idea is that this helmet is so heavy that it stays upright all the time and will not topple over, hence will not be filled with water. Because if it does, you die. Simple as that. Nah, you actually just go down maybe 20, 30 feet tops so there’s plenty of time to swim up to safety.

If you’re ears are sensitive, do not try this ever. The pressure will destroy your eardrums in no time. I exaggerate.

Now, for some reason, I could not keep my helmet perfectly upright. It wanted to lean forwards, which put tremendous pressure on my neck. I couldn’t enjoy the underwater scenic showcase. By the way, the guide divers there will also ask you to take the helmet off for 2-3 seconds for a photo op. If you’re with a sweetheart, they will even ask you to do a helmets-off underwater smooch photo op. Fucking baduy. But, we did it anyway. No wonder my wife enjoyed this activity a little too much.

That’s it. This trip was a bit short—3 full days—but wasn’t bitin by any measure. See, if you stay sober enough to be able to wake up early in the morning, you’ll be able to do lots more.

Boracay extended family. L-R (minus Euna): Virgil, Eloisa, Janine, Chinee
Boracay extended family. L-R (minus Euna): Virgil, Eloisa, Janine, Chinee.

By the way, I have decided to revive my gallery. I have uploaded a major Boracay 2015 album complete with commentary. Check it out. (Please.)

Oops…

Once again, once I start blogging, I can’t stop blogging. I’m gonna have to cut this here because I don’t want to go past 1,500 words (which no one really has the attention span for anyway). Abangan ang part two.

Happenings for the year 2015

2015 blog updates—the events

Okay, here goes; I’m in a “blogger” mood.

Baby goes to school

Having a baby—all that growing up, all the memories, all the milestones that happen in 2, 3 years—it all just happens so fast. One day you’ll simply wake up and realize, “Holy shit, this is the year my baby starts school.” Of course there are monetary concerns, but if you are at the very least half-decent parents, you know it’s going to happen no matter what. And, believe you me, you will find a way.

Baby went to summer school first, which we’re glad we did, and now goes to regular pre-kinder (same school). She goes to one of the best, if not the best preparatory camps down south (love your own). Adjusting to this 2-hour/day schedule must’ve been the biggest logistical change we’ve done in the past half-decade or so.

Pa secret-secret pa, kita naman sa uniform kung anong school.
Pa secret-secret pa, kita naman sa uniform kung anong school.

Okay, you know how every parent thinks their baby is the cutest, most adorable, miniature human being in the world? There are also those who think their baby is the smartest, most mature, most advanced-for-his/her-age gifted child there is. We’re the same, however, ours is backed by report cards. Baby really is at the top of her class. It might be a small class, but top is top nonetheless. I’d like to think reading to her almost every night from when she was around 1 to 3 years old helped.

I’m still an online warrior

I’ve just about had it explaining to people that I make a living online. I wish I could say I never had a 9-5 job since graduating college, but my record has since been tarnished (and only recently, at that). I went to work for my friend’s company 2011-2013, and it really was my first real job, peks man. This is, of course, outside of family businesses, some consulting shit, etc.

These days I simply say I manage the family food business, which I do anyway. But I still have websites that earn via affiliate marketing, text links, banners, all that jazz. There is, however, one big change to this whole online business game thingy that I’m playing. Around 2 years ago, I started learning about selling physical products via Amazon. I dug really, really deep into it and now I’m proud to say that I already have products up there. Don’t believe me? I don’t care.

Plus—and because of the curiosity sparked by Fulfillment by Amazon—I chanced upon the local/Asian version of it. Do you know what site I’m talking about? You’ve probably bought something on it already. The site is a goldmine if you have the right products and really learn the ins and outs of it, but it has already become too saturated for the sellers. Needless to say, I’m doing good from it (knock-knock), but it’s not a sit-back-and-relax type of thing.

So there, everything still happens online, except now I have to worry about the puhunan factor.

Getting ready to launch my brand, and a physical store, perhaps

All this selling ultimately led me to dream of having my own private label brand. I won’t divulge details for now, but you already know that it’s going to be music related. What the hell else, playah? I will announce this here because it is a big thing for me. (That is if I’ll still be in blogger mode 2-3 months from now.)

Bembang Productions wanted to be a lot of things

I revived Bembang Productions last year. However, after 3 or so shows, I realized this whole production thingy needs to stop or change. It’s doing little to no good for the scene, the bands, and me. On the last prod, I wanted to move the operations online, so I hired audio and video guns. It was a flop, however, due to technical difficulties, so now I am still without a video channel (at the very least).

2 gigs this year. The Skychurch/Erectus gig (mentioned above) tanked, which I really do not understand why. Stellar lineup, good promotion (which I paid for), but walang tao. Taena, Skychurch pa naman.

Pati poster okay naman. Wala, ewan.
Pati poster okay naman. Wala, ewan.

The Hale gig, however, was something else. That night belongs to the Bembang Productions top list.

Pogi parin ang mga Halers. Kami...mas pogi parin. Photo stolen from Infinity Blues Photography.
Pogi parin ang mga Halers. Kami…mas pogi parin. Photo stolen from Infinity Blues Photography.

I do have the video for the Skychurch gig but with so-so audio only, so maybe I’ll still upload it sometime.

Still rockin’

At this age—and because most of us have experienced 2, maybe 3 years of not playing—it really is all about what music does for us, and not we can do for it. Gets? Because making music with 3-4 other guys and being able to do it even if it’s just once a month is so much better than, well, not.

However, since internet na ang banatan ngayon, sali kami. I guess we’ll just keep on playing and releasing new songs until one member of the band dies (morbid shit). This is especially true for my band Holding Hands, because we honestly like each other (gay shit). Yung Hiraya naman, or the one with the female vocalist, we have this new lineup that’s still trying to be whole. (Oh, and we have this hot, new, rockin’ tattoo artist of a vocalist.)

Holding Hands at Checkpoint "Rock" Bar. Once again stolen from Infinity Blues Photography.
Holding Hands at Checkpoint “Rock” Bar. Once again stolen from Infinity Blues Photography.

We solved our transportation woes

Last year, our family had major transpo and logistics issues. I’d have to say it’s mainly my fault, because of my junk shop of a ride. That and our ailing Toyota Vios, aka Viyong, which hasn’t had any rest since 2012 or so. This year, my sister made it her mission to solve it once and for all.

Enter Briyong. The cutesy little Honda that gave us some breathing room on transportation matters. Take note, my chubby sis did all this just in time for my baby’s schooling. Proud of my sis for taking care of the family, and for buying her first real car.

With the Honda agent who still owes my sister some floor mats.
With the Honda agent who still owes my sister some floor mats.

Ako naman, hindi ako nagpatalo. Just this month, actually, I bought a pang-service—a base-model Suzuki APV, which shall henceforth be known as APVer. (Look, we name all our cars somewhat after our late father, okay? His name’s Virgilio.)

Back then I would’ve never imagined myself as someone who would buy a van, let alone a base model, but business muna. At least kakulay niya yung inaasam kong GT-R.

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My soon-to-be Green Archer

Tell you what, none of these (none of the above) trumps the news that we got just a couple of days ago. My little baby tum-tum, my baby stinky feet, my silly chee-chee funk just passed her DLSZ entrance exam. Look, I’m sure almost all kids get in easily, but it was still nerve-wracking. So much so that I got the results a day before on the website, which no one probably knew was already available.

Euna DLSZ Thoughts in Binary

I don’t even wanna think about the money issue at this point—which is no small matter—because I’m still on a high.

Special tributes

First, I would like to—in my own small way—pay homage to our Tita Diegs, the wife of my mother’s brother Tito Cesar. Her loss was sudden and unexpected—colon cancer; gone within 24 hours after discovery—but if there’s anything positive to take from this, that’s probably it. We still can’t believe you’re gone; we will always remember your thoughtfulness, your larger-than-life disposition, your simplicity, and how you can see the good and the happy in almost anything. You and my tito, you were truly perfect for one another. And, more than anything else, I know you lived a very, very makulay na buhay.

Second. Mother-fracking shocking news here. I have this friend from the billiards circle. We became close circa 2007-2008 because we played pool on an almost daily basis and were basically neighbors. Just recently, he killed his own brother; this in what I would imagine to be the family altercation of all family altercations. Murder is murder, but a big part of me still wants to know. What happened, man?

Finally, to my friend, my classmate, my barkada, my bandmate. (This shit is very sensitive, mind you.) This Singaporean lost his months-old firstborn son this year. It was a battle for him and his wife. It was the toughest shit I’ve ever heard in my entire life, and I can’t believe it happened to someone close to me. Truly, no parent should ever have to go through the death of their children.

Pare, and I speak in behalf of our still-in-PH barkada, I (we) would like you to know that not enough words were said only because we were simply shocked to the brim, and were mainly scared to blurt out something that would offend you instead of comfort you. I know you understand but I would still like to apologize for not being able to go to SG even for a day at the time. Do know that we will never forget Ian, ever.

Ian

(It has always been my plan to write a tribute song for him, but just in case it does not happen anytime soon, or ever, let this message fly the waves of the interwebs forever.)

There you go. I guess I really missed blogging. Watch out for the second installment wherein I’ll try once again to be a travel blogger.

Blogger ka ba? Ulul.

Hello, world!

2015 edition

What? A blog post? You know it.

An interesting (business) email had me look at and open this blog to edit an entry, which kinda got my writing itch itching. I know people still find their way here but I never would have thought it’d be for something that (still) matters.

Whatever. What’s important is here I am and I’m about to drop a bomb of an update. Ready?

Joke lang.

I have become super soft, to tell you the truth. (Not that anyone really considered me otherwise before, actually). Fatherhood fucking changes you, man. I swear to Lucifer I cry at anything that revolves around a father-daughter (or general family drama) plot. Gravity? Freaking sob fest. Inside Out? Are you kidding me? Furious 7? Wait, although wala namang hindi umiyak doon.

My daughter, our daughter, is my (our) life. And there’s really no way around it. And, it really is something that people without kids—either by choice or are still too young—would never understand. Heck, I thought I understood before but boy did I knew nothing, John Snow. You know what’s funny, though? Any childless person who claims they’re busy. Yes, any, as in all of you. It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO of Apple, for crying out loud. You still have that 1-2 hours of alone time before you sleep.

Not that I’m complaining, but, wait, yes, I actually am. Being a parent is hard. But I would never—not in a million lifetimes—have it any other way.

But enough of the drama. I love my daughter and she’s my universe and all that shit, but what about me? Actually, I just realized that it would be impossible to give a life update without her in the picture so just deal with it. Okay?

Oh, holy crap, I just had an epiphany. Midway through writing this post, I realized I had tons of shit to say, so I’ve decided to segregate. My 2015 series of posts will now be like this:

  • 2015: The events
  • 2015: The places
  • 2015: The things, online shit, and special mentions

Once done, you’ll see the stuff above linked. Excited ka na? Don’t be. Joke.

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The fambam in 2015. That’s old me, but still very papable.

(Wait, if there’s PAPAble and LOLOlicious, I guess I’m TITOllating.)

Enchanted Kingdom 2014: Back after 7 years

Sorry ha, EK lang ang kaya ng “travel blog” ko eh

March 22, 2014 — Having lived my entire life south of Manila, Enchanted Kingdom has always been part of the options for quick getaways—especially if we’re up for something a little more than mall bumming, but a lot less than a semi-impromptu overnight. The place is off-city so it’s definitely a lakad, it provides cheap thrills and group/family bonding scenarios, and you can be yourself without having to worry about anyone you know seeing you. For lack of a better term, you can go all out and be baduy—sling a belt bag balikbayan-style or wear man sandals with socks, for crying out loud. No one will care.

This may have been my 5th time to EK (6th, maybe). All I know is my last time there was in 2007; April 1, 2007, to be exact. My then-girlfriend, now-wife had a friend who had a Brit boyfriend. He had about 2 weeks here and we were tasked to fill the void between out-of-towners, so we mostly did doable-in-a-day, reachable-by-car trips. Hence, Enchanted Kingdom. I also remember this vividly because I was already blogging then, and I documented it photo blog-style. (Of course, I could’ve just said that.)

Continue reading “Enchanted Kingdom 2014: Back after 7 years”

Palawan virgins no more 2: Microtel by Wyndham

We went to Puerto Princesa, Palawan last March 4-8, 2014. With me were The New Mrs. V (wife), Baby Bagyo (baby), Ru-FB (sister 1), and Ninjanine (sister 2). You can read the first part here. That post was also my comeback piece after a three-year hiatus from blogging and needless to say, I enjoyed it a little too much. This is why I’m smacked right in the middle of a possible three-part epic post, detailing every activity we did and every place we went to.

So without further ado, let’s finish this bitch up!

We continue on the 2nd day circa 2pm after our short stint at Robinsons Palawan, about to check in to our 2nd and main hotel.

Read me – UPDATE

This post was supposed to be “Palawan virgins no more – part two”. I originally intended it to cover at least days 2 to 3 of our 5-day vacation. But, lo and behold, I didn’t realize I had so much to say about the hotel. So, it became a semi-review/rant about Microtel.

Microtel by Wyndham Puerto Princesa, Palawan – k lng.

Our relationship with Microtel Palawan did not start on the right foot. Influenced by my wife’s passion to harbor all-encompassing hate, I saw them as mapagsamantala in their marketing. I will not dive into the details of our scuffle with them but I will tell you that it all happened during the booking period. With that said, I will admit that my opinion of this hotel is slightly tainted.

The looks

Let’s start with the architecture and the ambiance of the hotel (naknamputs).

Vantage point: at the very front of the hotel. Beside the signage is their main entrance.
Vantage point is at the very front of the hotel. Beside the signage is their main entrance.
Same vantage point but looking left. This is also the same side our room was located.
Same vantage point but looking left. This is also the side where our room was located.
Same vantage point but looking right.
Same vantage point but looking right.
Looking at the back so this is the front of the hotel. The hotel sits on reclaimed land and one of the staff said that area with the mangroves is still reached by seawater.
Same spot but with my back against the hotel (so this is what’s in front of the hotel). The hotel sits on reclaimed land and according to one of the staff, this area is still reached by seawater (through tunnels or passageways, I’m guessing).
This is what you see standing right in front of the main door.
This is what you see standing right in front of the main door. (Lovin’ the walis, ha.)
Upon entering, you turn left, enter a 2nd door and this is what you see. The front desk is not to your right.
Upon entering, you turn left, enter a 2nd door and this is what you see. The front desk is now to your right.
Baby Bagyo just loves that round sofa thingy.
Baby Bagyo just loves that round sofa thingy.
This is what's in front of the front desk. The New Mrs. V waiting to check in.
This is what’s in front of the front desk. The New Mrs. V waiting for her turn to check in. Ru-FB nakasagap ng Wi-Fi at nag-FB.
That's their front desk. On duty was the less-attractive receptionist who was not named Ice.
That’s their front desk. On duty was the less-attractive receptionist who was not named Ice.
This is the right hallway on the first floor. To the right of the TV is the front desk.
This is the right hallway on the first floor. To the right of the TV is the front desk.
This is the dining area where they serve buffet breakfast (when the restaurant is in use—you'll see this later).
This is the dining area where they serve buffet breakfast (when the restaurant is in use).
The back of the hotel, right side (right if you were facing the front).
The back of the hotel, right side (right if you were facing the facade).
The back, left side featuring one of the lazy hammocks. This is not the immediate beach; this portion is elevated as you'll see later.
The back, left side featuring one of the lazy hammocks. This is not the immediate beach; this portion is elevated as you’ll see later.
The swimming pool.
The swimming pool.
Another view of the swimming pool showing the restaurant and the small kiddie playground (like).
Another view of the swimming pool showing the restaurant and the small kiddie playground (like).
We'll never forget that swimming pool because that's where Baby Bagyo first learned how to swim "all by herself."
We’ll never forget that swimming pool because it’s where Baby Bagyo first learned how to swim “all by herself.”

I guess I have nothing bad to say about the way the hotel looks in general. It’s not spectacular, but it’s definitely way above average.

The location

Look at the 4th photo from the top. That’s the front of the hotel; there’s no visible form of sibilisasyon in sight. The hotel is located in the middle of nowhere and is one of those places you stay put on come nighttime. There was this one time The New Mrs. V ran out of smokes in the middle of the night and no one, not even the staff, advised us to go to the nearest sari-sari.

The “beach”

Looking back, I think we would’ve done okay if we settled for a non-beachfront hotel. Microtel’s beach is one that could use quotation marks. You could literally walk 2 kilometers without any usable, swimmable ocean. During low tide, you get a barren sea of sand the size of 10 football fields.

Like I said, the hotel sits on elevated land. This is their beach during high tide, taken at exactly 12:19 PM.
Like I said, the hotel sits on elevated land. This is their beach during high tide, photo taken at exactly 12:19 PM.
Come low tide, water disappears like there's no tomorrow. This is the same area; photo was taken at 5:20 PM.
Come low tide, the water disappears like there’s no tomorrow. This is the same area; photo was taken at 5:20 PM.
Hotel's at my back and I'm looking straight. See those two trees? The hotel put lights on them. Seriously, may kuntador dun.
Hotel’s at my back and I’m looking straight. See those two trees? The hotel put lights on them. Seriously, may kuntador dun.
Hotel's at my back and I'm looking to the right.
Hotel’s at my back and I’m looking slightly to the right.
Went down the beach, walked straight, looked at the hotel.
Went down the beach, walked straight, looked at the hotel.
Walked a little bit to the left.
Walked a little bit to the left.
Here's a photo that shows the "sea of sand."
Here’s a photo that shows the “sea of sand.”
Just look at the scale of that. See those two dots? Those are Ninjanine and Ru-FB.
Just look at the scale of that. See those two dots? Those are Ninjanine and Ru-FB.
Patches of water everywhere.
Muddy patches everywhere.
Finally reached the end. The open sea—Sulu Sea.
Finally reached the end. The open sea—Sulu Sea.
The journey back to the hotel begins.
The journey back to the hotel begins.
That is freaking far.
That is freaking far.
The only use we had for this beach was our sandcastle-building session. Sayang swimsuit ni Baby Bagyo.
The only use we had for this beach was for our impromptu sandcastle-building session. Sayang lang ang swimsuit ni Baby Bagyo.

The room

For some reason, I forgot to take detailed photos of the room. It was okay, though; I remember it having nice blue floor tiles that were easy to keep clean (yes, those are the things I remember). We got a room with 2 queen-sized beds and they were standard, hotel-issue ones (nice, in other words). It had a beach-view balcony that was really small, probably around 4 by 2 feet. It had a nice flat-screen, possibly a 32-inch one; it had a small ref, a lighted cabinet, and a desk. The bathroom is okay, but I can’t forget my one peeve about it—it didn’t have a removable shower head (the one with a hose), only a permanent overhead one. A removable one is very important especially if you’re trying to bathe a child or hose down sand-filled slippers, shorts, bathing suits, etc.

This is the only photo I have that shows part of the room.
This is the only photo I have that shows part of the room.
Here's a little extra something that happened on our last day there. The hotel was host to a kiteboarding event thingy. This was taken from our room's balcony.
Here’s a little extra something that happened on our last day there. The hotel was host to a kiteboarding event thingy. This was taken from our room’s balcony.

Final thoughts

I expected so much from Microtel, especially because I wanted my preformed opinion of them reversed. Had the hotel been A+ at everything—location, amenities, service, etc.—I would’ve still considered them the right choice, but, sad to say, it didn’t.

Final thoughts – pros

They do have a free shuttle service that will pick you up from the airport, bring you back to it, and bring you to nearby spots such as restaurants. But I feel it was already born out of necessity due to its middle-of-nowhere location. Still, it’s a plus. They have shuttle schedules spread throughout the day that can take you anywhere reasonable.

Final thoughts – cons

Ah, here goes. Although explicitly stated on the terms and conditions, I still hoped they would forgo the extra-person charge. We booked a room for 3 that had two queen-sized beds; there were five of us (1 baby). Upon checking in, boom! We were charged Php 750/night per person, which meant 2 x Php 750, x 3 nights — an extra Php 4,500 added to our total cost. Ouch. Okay, why am I ranting about this even if it was already to be expected? Because hotels of this caliber (price range) should not charge for extra occupants, unless maybe if the guests ask for extra cushions or extra breakfast coupons. This, to me (based on experience), is an unwritten rule in hotel management 101 (but what the heck do I know). For one, how do you think people are able to stage bachelor parties in hotel rooms? They (bachelors) sure as hell aren’t going to pay extra for the strippers’ lodging, am I right?

Here’s another thing that pissed me off in a na natawa nalang kami kind of way. This hotel charges Php 150 for Wi-Fi access to the room. Wi-Fi is free at the lobby, but if you want it in your room…pay up, bitch! Seriously? Uso pa ba yun? Pati sa bus libre ang Wi-Fi, ah. Again, especially for a hotel of this caliber.

I also felt the staff did not go the extra mile. They weren’t rude or anything, and to be honest, they did not not do anything we asked or requested. They were polite, as expected, but I just feel a lack of sincerity behind their smiles. I really don’t know. Again, I was just looking for the extra mile or the rockstar treatment (rrraawwkkstar pa naman ako).

Holy ginataang tulingan, Batman, I didn’t realize I had so much to say about this hotel!

Pak shet. I may have to rethink this Palawan series of posts. I’ll just let this one be only about Microtel. This means I may have a possible 7-part novel in the making. Damn.

Puerto Princesa, Palawan virgins no more – part one

March 4-8, 2014

This trip had been in the offing since early last year and I’m glad it finally materialized. It’s one of those vacations you book just because of piso fares—which makes my wife even more cuckoo—but it was the first time to Palawan for everyone in our group so it was something we really wanted packed full o’ adventure.

Needless to say, we all fell in love with the capital city of the Philippines’ Last Frontier. We may have only visited 60% of what PP has to offer, but we covered all the biggies—PPSRNP, Honda Bay, Ugong Rock, etc. (Okay, Tubbataha Reef is not really kid-friendly so we Douglas McArthur’d it.)

This post is really nothing but a written account of our stay. This is not a guide (even though you might find it useful), this is not a review (although there are some), and this is definitely not a promotion. What this is is a freaking diary entry, and most of all, it’s a warm-up post as I have not written for three fucking years!

The gang

For the sake of storytelling (and to get a little more excitement to this comeback post), let me introduce you to the gang. To respect each one’s privacy, I’ve decided to replace real names with ninja-like code names. Here’s the group:

  1. Boy Banal – yours truly, aka The Official Heartthrob of Parañaque
  2. The New Mrs. V – ang Miss Universe ng Buhay Ko
  3. Baby Bagyo – true love personified
  4. Ru-FB (roo-ep-bi) – as in FB nang FB (sister 1)
  5. Ninjanine – looks-wise, the sister who can give The New Mrs. V a run for her money
L-R: Boy Banal, Ru-FB, Ninjanine, Baby Bagyo, The New Mrs. V

Day 1

From NAIA-3 to PPIA and the tricycle ride

Because Ninjanine booked her ticket separate from ours, she got an earlier flight. We had to accompany her to the airport, though, since it was her first time to fly. Unfortunately, this meant waiting in NAIA-3 for 4 hours. NAIA-3 is our best terminal, right? I’m not going to go all Chuvaness here but the check-in area was hellishly hot. Then, the lower-level boarding gates wreaked of cigarette smoke. The smoking areas are sealed and separated but it did not matter. Had we known, we wouldn’t have waited there until the last minute especially since we had Baby Bagyo, who was then only a week shy of turning three.

Check out my very pawis Baby Bagyo. Hot, baby, right?
Now that I've quit smoking, I hate cigarette smoke with a vengeance. It was really sakit ulo-stinky here.
Now that I’ve quit smoking, I hate cigarette smoke with a vengeance. It was really sakit ulo-stinky here.

There’s really not much to say about Puerto Princesa International Airport. It’s a small airport in a sleepy town but it serves its purpose.

Touchdown and reunited with Ninjanine. You made it, sister!
Touchdown and reunited with Ninjanine. You made it, sister!

We took two tricycles (at the drivers’ insistence) to our first night-hotel and paid Php 100 (Php 50 each) . We would later realize that we got slightly scammed here. We’d comfortably fit in one trike on our succeeding trips, maleta and all. The funny thing, though, was all throughout our stay we were in awe at how honest and trustworthy the Palaweños were. Little did we know, our relationship with them started with a raket. No biggie.

Greenspace Palawan Bed and Breakfast – Like!

We knew we’d arrive post daylight so we got a cheap B&B that was close to the airport for our first night. Greenspace was a top contender after going back and forth through all the online travel aids, and I think it was the professional-looking photo set that got us to finally choose it. Needless to say, it did not disappoint.

Unwind, unwind before going out again for dinner.
Unwind, unwind before going out again for dinner.

Greenspace is located 5 minutes away from the airport—on Dacanay Road—which is perpendicular to their EDSA-equivalent, Rizal Avenue (that is if EDSA were only 2 lanes, didn’t have buses, pollution, and allowed tricycles). What you’d never realize if you’d only look online, however, is that Dacanay Road is a one-lane eskinita. For me, that’s where this B&B gets its appeal. You have everything within a stone’s throw, yet you get the detachment only a semi-inaccessible road can offer.

The place, the main building (house) looks like it’s no more than 3 years standing. Paint looks fresh; furniture, hardware does not look abused. It has a minimalistic cum zen cum modern look to it (whatever that means) which I really dug. They had free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, the works. One of the signages says it’s a pension house but I’m not really sure about that. What I’m sure of, though, is it’s also the owner’s residence.

We spent around Php 1,600 for an overnight stay, officially for 3.

The shower.
The shower and the porcelain throne.
Clean, simple sink area.
Clean, simple sink area.

The succeeding photos of Greenspace were taken the morning after.

This is probably the only thing weird about the room - a balcony on the first floor that's a meter away from the perimeter wall.
This is probably the only thing weird about the room – a balcony on the first floor that’s a meter away from the perimeter wall.
The very bare hallway.
The very bare hallway.
The "lobby."
The “lobby.”
The front desk (as seen from outside).
The front desk (as seen from outside).
The open dining area where they serve breakfast.
The open dining area where they serve breakfast.
The facade of the house.
The facade of the house (I should get paid for this).
This is Dacanay Road. At the very end is Rizal Avenue (walking distance).
This is Dacanay Road. At the very end is Rizal Avenue (walking distance).
Off to our next destination.
Off to our next destination.

But first, we go back to the night of the first day, dinner time.

Balinsasayaw Restaurant – a meal worthy of the first

The plan was to unload at Greenspace and have dinner at a sikat restaurant. However, we were all very tired so we decided to look for a nearby eat. Luckily, the corner of Dacanay and Rizal housed a big, open, native-style restaurant called Balinsasayaw. It has this wordless signage that features a bird.

The bird-only signage. That's Baby Bagyo going crazy over the laser lights.
The bird-only signage. That’s Baby Bagyo going crazy over the laser lights.

We all really enjoyed the food especially the Balinsasayaw Salted Rice. We had a good first meal and we all thought it was a taste of things yet to come. Little did we know it set the bar high and we’d be disappointed more than satisfied on our succeeding meals.

From the inside. Very native, bahay kubo-ish.
From the inside. Very native, very bahay kubo-ish.
Balinsasayaw's new brand ambassador modeling the menu.
Balinsasayaw’s new brand ambassador modeling the menu.

We asked a lot of natives for the best restaurants in PP. Looking back, I’m surprised no one ever mentioned Balinsasayaw. We were unable to go to all the recommendations, of course, but we did go to a lot. Personally, I think Balinsasayaw should be on that list.

We spent around Php 850 here – for 5 including Baby Bagyo.

Day 2

After a night of Red Horse and a simple silog breakfast courtesy of Greenspace, it was time to pack move on to the next hotel. We rode a tricycle to their main mall, Robinsons Place Palawan, where we were to be picked up. There’s no SM in Palawan by the way, I think that’s worth mentioning.

Robinsons Place Palawan

We spent the time waiting for our sundo shopping for minor necessities and in this short period of time, we already saw the whole mall. I like their Robinsons. It’s sized just right, easy to navigate, has all the essentials, and does not look probinsya-ish at all. We’d go back there one more time when we got tired of local tastes and craved for unhealthy fast food.

Robinsons Place Palawan
Robinsons Place Palawan
Wait! Pang-IG ko ito!
Wait! Pang-IG ko ito!
One of the main wings. Dencio's side.
One of the main wings. Dencio’s side.

Halt! I really did not think this through.

I’ve already passed 1,000 words and I’m only on the 2nd day. Since the next part will be a long, photo-filled section about our hotel (Microtel), I’ve decided to cut it short here. Watch out for the next part (maybe 2).

Manila International Auto Show 2010

Naks, 2 blog posts in 2 days

Here is my “coverage” of the the recently concluded Manila International Auto Show. I went on the last day, April 18, 2010, Sunday, at about 4:30 pm. Manila International Auto Show or “MIAS” is not really known for customized cars. Although there are, they are separate from the the major car brands’ booths. And if you’re familiar with the World Trade Center, the custom cars are at the smaller building at the left side. MIAS is also known for Russ Swift—that precision driver dude who drives cars on their sides, and parallel parks like there’s no tomorrow—all of which I have not seen in the 3 years I’ve been going.

What’s special about this year’s show? Tough one, but WilCars is at the top of my list. WilCars is a collaboration between Alex Restoration and, wait for it, Willie Revillame. In other words, there is a space there with a Ferrari, a Porsche, 2 Mustangs and an Audi R8—all of which are Willie’s, all of which have “WIL” in their license plates. Papi, idol ka talaga. More about cars in the gallery, click below.

Thoughts In Binary’s “Mahal Ko Na Siya Bebot of the Show”

Go figure. I don’t know what it is about these promo girls, but with all these blogs covering them, they’ve become celebrities in their own right. Phrases like “uy, si Mica Atanacio” or “uy paps, si Jem Milton” come out of our mouths like rapid fire. And in each of these shows, there is always someone, often a new discovery, whom I’d like to take home and… Usually she’d be the one quietly taking her job seriously, while most “Pinoy parazzi” hoard the likes of Paulene So and Abby Poblador.

Meet Ms. Sherlyn Gonzales. By the way, that’s a really funny name. I know she might not look much in the photo below, I was shocked too when I downloaded them, but believe me, she is damn fine. I then googled “Sharlene Gonzales” after remembering how much I laughed when I asked her name, and this was the only link I came up with. I’m not even sure if that’s her, because Jesus, the bangs ha. Pero ganda niya, pasok na pasok sa criteria. Click below, marami pang kwento sa gallery.

Naujan, Oriental Mindoro

Was where we went to, Holy Week 2010. Why? Because we did not have any plans, and like I “tweeted” (yes, I have Twitter), we almost ended up in Puerto Galera. Naujan is about two hours away from White Beach via automobile. The only reason we got to know of this unheard municipality is because of our third wheel, Reeza ni Sir A, of whom whose family hails from, who at the last minute suggested we go to instead—since Sir A could not come.

Going to Naujan, we took our usual Puerto Galera route with minor modifications—figure out a way to go to Alabang, bus from Alabang to Batangas Pier, Batangas Pier to Calapan via roro (minor modification), then 45-minute jeep ride to Naujan town proper.

So what the hell is in Naujan? Nothing, really. Although the bore was mainly caused by us not having a car to go around by. Literally minutes before leaving, I googled for some exciting scenery and found out about some lakes and falls—all of  which ended up in our hindi napuntahan, next time nalang list.

To cut Naujan some slack, here are some of the things I’d never forget: They had naturally-hot water coming out from their pipes. It was really hot and it made me say “Ang kulit ng tubig dito” a dozen times. They had this nice, clean and huge probinsya “plaza” (as in “kita tayo sa plaza…”), where the locals gathered and mingled on an almost daily basis. The town is dead by 8:00 pm, so if you have an inuman session and run out of beer, sorry.

What else? The beach, or rather, the dagat is referred to by the locals as “Black Beach.” Typical dagat for me, but just imagine how the two girls I was with reacted. In fact, we were foreigners in an unforeign land, simply because we had Likas Papaya skin. Oh before I forget, the standard ulam order in their “restaurants” was Php 30. Dirt cheap, and so does a pack of Marlboros (Php 30. Php 34-35 in a typical Manila sari-sari), which left me really, really dumbfounded.

So, that’s it? No, I have to end this post in a high note. And this, said in nothing but pure honesty, so help me, God, is the truth and nothing but the truth. The locals, I love you guys. You are the best. As cheap as the food already was, we could have survived even without our wallets. Food and drinks everywhere, food just after we’ve eaten, and lodging good for three separately (which we did not take, obviously). Plus, the locals can drink. Good thing I have some summer practice. Special shout out to the Gayos and Balita families.

Click below for photo coverage.