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chocoks77
05-23-2007, 12:36 PM
Lemme start. I have been to almost everywhere in our beloved country. So far I have only been to 3 places abroad, Qatar, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.

Palawan is one of the best if not the best place to go to for relaxation. Boracay masyado ng commercialized tsaka sa dami ng tao during summer, baka lumubog sa bigat dahil overloaded na :D. Next target ko Bohol.

In terms of airlines, I take PAL Mabuhay class especially when going to Davao. Cebu pacific naman kung tight sa oras.

JonarSabilano
05-23-2007, 12:58 PM
OK pumunta sa Blue Lagoon sa Pagudpud -- that is, kung may sarili kang sasakyan.

Pumunta kasi kami doon last year. Nag-arkila kami ng jeep. 1 AM kami umalis, Sabado nang madaling-araw. Bawat probinsya yatang dinaanan namin, nagka-flat tire kami. Nag-stopover pa sa Vigan. Apat na oras kami doon. The whole time my group was strolling around, the jeep just stayed in the parking lot. When we pulled out, doon lang nagdecide ang driver na magpa-vulcanize ng spare tires. Ayun, 10PM na kami nakarating sa Burgos, where we were supposed to stay.

Kinabukasan, 9 AM pa lang, dapat papunta na kami sa Pagudpud. Hindi nga lang natuloy -- late nagising ang mga tao (having drunk too much basi the night before), tapos nag-side trip pa sa Cape Bojeador lighthouse. 330PM na kami dumating sa Blue Lagoon. Tapos, may hinika sa amin around 8PM, kaya napilitan kaming umuwi agad.

The next time I'm going there, I'll bring my own car at lagi akong magbabaon ng Ventolin inhaler. Para sigurado.

PS. Better bring your own beer. Walang mabibilhan ng toma sa Blue Lagoon.

muddatrucker
05-23-2007, 02:47 PM
In terms of airlines, I take PAL Mabuhay class especially when going to Davao. Cebu pacific naman kung tight sa oras.

Maganda ba Business Class ng PAL?

chocoks77
05-23-2007, 02:53 PM
In terms of what? Relaxing naman, sa airport tambay sa lounge with free pica pica foods and bottomless drinks such as coffee, beer, soda, juice and water. Ok yung seats sa plane tapos bibigyan ka ng welcome drinks(water with lemon or juice). Then ang food naman masarap. Check airlinemeals.net para sa mga food na ino-offer ng mga airlines. Pag lang, priority disembarkation tapos unang bagaheng lalabas yung sa iyo.

GHRanger
05-23-2007, 02:55 PM
It's been a while since i took the business class.

Basically:
Seats are bigger.
You get a full meal in flight (instead of the peanuts and juice)
You get to use the PAL Lounge (good food as well.)
Toilet to passenger ratio is less. :)

It's okay if you're taking a 2hr++ trip. *But not really worth it for less time in the air than that.

chocoks77
05-23-2007, 03:02 PM
Ano ba ok sa Bohol? Magkano kaya damage at ilang araw ba dapat mag say dun para complete vacation dun.

muddatrucker
05-23-2007, 03:08 PM
I asked because I didn't think it was worth flying business class on local flights.

I don't really care much for the seats, I fly business class for the food and lounges (and if someone else is paying :P).

shyboy
05-23-2007, 04:17 PM
Ano ba ok sa Bohol? Magkano kaya damage at ilang araw ba dapat mag say dun para complete vacation dun.


Okay sa Bohol Beach Club. We stayed there 3D/2N. Tapos nag-roro kami overnight to Cagayan De Oro where I have a cousin who helped us book at a resort in Camiguin. We stayed there for another 3D/2N. Basically we wanted to have time to relax kaya we chose Bohol and Camiguin unlike Boracay where sobrang dami ng tao.

Bennie Bangag
05-24-2007, 01:07 PM
whenever "boracay" is mentioned, i can't help but recall a snarky remark from a friend: "ang pagkakaiba lang ng boracay sa maynila ay maraming puting buhangin sa boracay."

anyway, kung bohol din ang pag-uusapan, you should attend their town fiestas. ugali kasi ng mga boholanos na umuwi para sa kanilang mga pista sa nayon, kaya talagang full-time at year-round ang kanilang paghahanda doon. i remember one summer when i was in college, my group made a stopover in bohol and experienced a truly boholano feast. you'll tire out from all that chewing. great beaches too.

Gil_Andrews
05-25-2007, 10:17 PM
Ano ba ok sa Bohol? Magkano kaya damage at ilang araw ba dapat mag say dun para complete vacation dun.


Okay sa Bohol Beach Club.* We stayed there 3D/2N.* Tapos nag-roro kami overnight to Cagayan De Oro where I have a cousin who helped us book at a resort in Camiguin.* We stayed there for another 3D/2N.* Basically we wanted to have time to relax kaya we chose Bohol and Camiguin unlike Boracay where sobrang dami ng tao.



We stayed in Bohol Tropiques which is only 5 mins drive from the Tagbilaran airport. It has a nice pool and quiet ambience.

Better yet, stay in Panglao - the best beach area in the province for beach bums. Don't miss also visiting the Baclayon Chuch and the cruise along Loboc river.

Gil_Andrews
05-25-2007, 10:19 PM
I'm planning to go to Batanes by the end of the year. Anyobody wants to share experiences in that place?

bluewing
05-31-2007, 12:21 AM
gusto kong mag-vigan. lahat yata kasi ng kilala ko napunta na doon. ako hindi pa.

Kid Cubao
05-31-2007, 08:01 AM
gil, if you're going to batanes at yearend, don't expect:

1. sunshine. if it's not raining, it's cloudy. so don't attempt to do your laundry in the bathroom sink if you're not staying for more than three days.

2. many restos and entertainment establishments. if i'm not mistaken, there are no fastfood joints like mcdonald's and jollibee either. the better to taste authentic batanes cuisine, though.

3. 24-hour, round-the-clock electric power in the hotel you're staying in. kung meron, eh di mabuti. pero kung walang kuryente sa gabi o madaling araw, don't say i didn't warn you. pero ok lang, maulan naman dun at di ka mababanas sa init. in fact, it can get quite cold when the temperatures drop at nightfall.

4. traffic despite their bike lanes that pass for main thoroughfares. the primary modes of transport are bicycles, padyak tricycles, motorcycles, and tricycles especially in basco, the provincial capitol. ergo, malinis ang hangin doon.

Wang-Bu
05-31-2007, 09:10 AM
I'm planning to go to Batanes by the end of the year. Anyobody wants to share experiences in that place?


Barkadahin mo kagad ang hepe ng polisya para marami kang, ah, extra service...

christian
05-31-2007, 10:08 AM
El Nido, Palawan is the best! i was there a week ago, the weather cooperated, thank god! stayed there for 3D/2N, and we made the MOST out of it. Our flight was the first in the morning (Friday) and the last of the day (Sunday) on board ITI's Dornier 228, 10,000 feet above sea level (1 hr 15 mins). Snorkeling, intro diving, kayaking, island hopping, rock climbing! even the snake island, ang ganda! from the airport to the resort (Miniloc Island Resort) scenic views all the way (limestone cliffs, beaches, and of course the "balinsasayaw"). They have 2 resorts there, Miniloc Island and Lagen Island, 4-5 times na ako nakapunta (my father's hometown) lahat sa Miniloc. I would like to try Lagen becuase it's new and more costly :) The difference between the 2 is Miniloc has a house reef (snorkeling, intro dives) while Lagen has a 4 ft pool (no beach front). It's a nice getaway. One guest even said that if your friend doesn't believe in God, you should bring them to El Nido! Even the senior resort manager is a pretty sight to see ;)

JonarSabilano
06-01-2007, 10:18 AM
gusto kong mag-vigan. lahat yata kasi ng kilala ko napunta na doon. ako hindi pa.


Don't forget to try the empanada and longanisa. And the basi. Talap talap. ;D

bluewing
06-01-2007, 11:17 AM
gusto kong mag-vigan. lahat yata kasi ng kilala ko napunta na doon. ako hindi pa.


Don't forget to try the empanada and longanisa. And the basi. Talap talap.* ;D


sann ba ma-ko-compare ang longanisa dito? more on the sweet or spicy type? na-curious ako. mahilig ako dyan eh. da best na longanisa sa akin ay yung sa iloilo. yung matamis. "chorizo daw ang tawag nila dun. ewan ko sa kanila, basta longanisa pa rin yun. mukhang longanisa eh.

JonarSabilano
06-01-2007, 11:52 AM
gusto kong mag-vigan. lahat yata kasi ng kilala ko napunta na doon. ako hindi pa.


Don't forget to try the empanada and longanisa. And the basi. Talap talap.* ;D


sann ba ma-ko-compare ang longanisa dito? more on the sweet or spicy type? na-curious ako. mahilig ako dyan eh. da best na longanisa sa akin ay yung sa iloilo. yung matamis. "chorizo daw ang tawag nila dun. ewan ko sa kanila, basta longanisa pa rin yun. mukhang longanisa eh.


Mas spicy ang Vigan longanisa. Masarap lagyan ng suka. Parang longanisang Lucban pero mas maikli.

bluewing
06-01-2007, 05:00 PM
gusto kong mag-vigan. lahat yata kasi ng kilala ko napunta na doon. ako hindi pa.


Don't forget to try the empanada and longanisa. And the basi. Talap talap.* ;D


sann ba ma-ko-compare ang longanisa dito? more on the sweet or spicy type? na-curious ako. mahilig ako dyan eh. da best na longanisa sa akin ay yung sa iloilo. yung matamis. "chorizo daw ang tawag nila dun. ewan ko sa kanila, basta longanisa pa rin yun. mukhang longanisa eh.


Mas spicy ang Vigan longanisa. Masarap lagyan ng suka. Parang longanisang Lucban pero mas maikli.


salamat sa tip. any particular brand i should look for or pare-pareho yan?

JonarSabilano
06-01-2007, 05:24 PM
gusto kong mag-vigan. lahat yata kasi ng kilala ko napunta na doon. ako hindi pa.


Don't forget to try the empanada and longanisa. And the basi. Talap talap.* ;D


sann ba ma-ko-compare ang longanisa dito? more on the sweet or spicy type? na-curious ako. mahilig ako dyan eh. da best na longanisa sa akin ay yung sa iloilo. yung matamis. "chorizo daw ang tawag nila dun. ewan ko sa kanila, basta longanisa pa rin yun. mukhang longanisa eh.


Mas spicy ang Vigan longanisa. Masarap lagyan ng suka. Parang longanisang Lucban pero mas maikli.


salamat sa tip. any particular brand i should look for or pare-pareho yan?


Noong pumunta ako doon, piyesta sa kanila. Maraming nakahilerang mini-carinderia na walang sine-serve kundi okoy, empanada (another must-try!), at longanisa. Pumili ako ng random na stall at kumain. Noong sumunod na araw, isa pang stall. Ganoon lang ang ginawa ko. Wala masyadong pagkakaiba ang lasa ng mga iyon.

Kung gusto mo mag-uwi ng longanisa, pumunta ka lang sa palengke. Katulad ng nabanggit kanina, halos pareho lang ang kalidad ng mga tinda roon.

Bennie Bangag
06-02-2007, 07:05 PM
before the discussion thread morphs into the food network, please be reminded that all food discussions are in the other thread, thank you.

Joescoundrel
06-05-2007, 09:52 AM
Everyone who lives in Metro Manila seems to want to go to the country or anywhere outside of the city as their idea of travel and R & R.

I know the traffic and polution are horrendous in the city but there are places you should check out within the city that may surprise you.

First among these is what I call a church tour: the city of Manila has some of the most beautiful and historical churches anywhere. Right in the U-belt area you have the San Sebastian chapel made of Belgian steel, one of the few structures the bombs of wars and the rumblings of quakes could not bring down. From there you can go to the San Beda chapel, about as Gothic and medieval as it gets with dark hardwoods and low ceiling. The mosey on over to the very popular St Jude chapel and St Michael the Archangel chapel along Laurel within Malacanang.

In Intramuros there is San Agustin and of course the Manila Cathedral. By the way, did you know this is actually the EIGHTH Manila Cathedral, with the first seven incarnations getting bombed, burned, blown up or brought down by quakes. Finally there is Ermita chapel aka Kapilya De Nuestra Senora De Guia and Malate church.

Along the way you can check out how Manila must have looked like at the turn of the century with the older and still intact houses as well as some buildings that have stood since before the second World War.

christian
06-06-2007, 12:06 PM
Sir Joe, parang field trip nung Grade School ;D

bluewing
06-06-2007, 06:50 PM
Sir Joe, parang field trip nung Grade School* *;D


Manong Joe Scoundrel. A.K.A. The Bus Driver....

Joescoundrel
06-07-2007, 10:41 AM
Sir Joe, parang field trip nung Grade School* *;D


Manong Joe Scoundrel. A.K.A. The Bus Driver....


Bakit parang sounds like a porno character: "The Bus Driver"...

I forgot to mention you may want to have lunch or meryenda at the Hotel De Intramuros, a DOT-run hostel where a number of Manila schools send their HRM students for practicum. I swear its as if you were transported to turn of the century Manila.

bluewing
06-07-2007, 10:45 AM
Sir Joe, parang field trip nung Grade School* *;D


Manong Joe Scoundrel. A.K.A. The Bus Driver....


Bakit parang sounds like a porno character: "The Bus Driver"...

I forgot to mention you may want to have lunch or meryenda at the Hotel De Intramuros, a DOT-run hostel where a number of Manila schools send their HRM students for practicum. I swear its as if you were transported to turn of the century Manila.


tanong, manong joe:

saan ka naman namamasyal kapag may pera ka at di ka nagtitipid? :D

Joescoundrel
06-07-2007, 10:50 AM
^^^ I go "around the world" with Vanna over at Pegasus. Then I "take a cruise" with Lia at Golden Stag. And finally I "hit the spa" with Kring at Caesar's.

Kid Cubao
06-07-2007, 11:11 AM
^^ no wonder you earned the monicker "the bus driver" ;D

bluewing
06-07-2007, 11:26 AM
^^ no wonder you earned the monicker "the bus driver" ;D


maraming sine-send to school...

chocoks77
06-07-2007, 12:14 PM
I brought my car to Davao City from Manila via Superferry. Total cost for RORO 19,052 pesos for a one way trip. Punuin mo na ng gamit yung kotse kahit ang space lang na matira e yung para sa iyo bilang driver ayos lang. Tapos I had an upgraded accomodation. Suite accomodation sa Superferry for 7,700 pesos including na meals dito for 2.5 days.

Suite accomodation sa Superferry includes: Bottomless hot and cold water, Dream Satellite fed television. Sofa, T&B with bathtub, 2 single beds and a dresser, 2 breakfast meals, 3 lunch meals and 3 dinner meals, toiletries, towels and towelettes.

danny
06-20-2007, 01:38 AM
Everyone who lives in Metro Manila seems to want to go to the country or anywhere outside of the city as their idea of travel and R & R.

I know the traffic and polution are horrendous in the city but there are places you should check out within the city that may surprise you.

First among these is what I call a church tour: the city of Manila has some of the most beautiful and historical churches anywhere. Right in the U-belt area you have the San Sebastian chapel made of Belgian steel, one of the few structures the bombs of wars and the rumblings of quakes could not bring down. From there you can go to the San Beda chapel, about as Gothic and medieval as it gets with dark hardwoods and low ceiling. The mosey on over to the very popular St Jude chapel and St Michael the Archangel chapel along Laurel within Malacanang.

In Intramuros there is San Agustin and of course the Manila Cathedral. By the way, did you know this is actually the EIGHTH Manila Cathedral, with the first seven incarnations getting bombed, burned, blown up or brought down by quakes. Finally there is Ermita chapel aka Kapilya De Nuestra Senora De Guia and Malate church.

Along the way you can check out how Manila must have looked like at the turn of the century with the older and still intact houses as well as some buildings that have stood since before the second World War.


Anong field trip?

Manong ;D, parang Bisita Iglesya yan ah. Ganyan ang ruta namin dati. :D

JonarSabilano
06-21-2007, 03:31 AM
Nag-walking tour kami ng Intramuros noong Sabado. First stop namin, 'yung National Museum. While we weren't able to find Luna's Spoliarium there, the San Diego shipwreck exhibit more than made up for it. There are a lot of exhibits ongoing there. There's a collection of paintings by and about women on the fourth floor and an architectural photo collection as well. Too bad we got there around 2:30 PM; we barely had enough time to appreciate everything as the museum closes at 4:30. By the way, cameras aren't allowed at the National Museum. Good thing, though, that I had a camera phone at hand. Just make sure it doesn't have a flash as the light might ruin the paintings, especially the old ones.

We next crossed the street to Intramuros. We started off at Calle Muralla and its own University Belt. I climbed the walls at Baluarte de San Diego (?) and started snapping photos of the old fortifications. I also took nice pictures of PLM (the new Atienza-type buildings just don't go well with the 60's architecture), Mapua, Lyceum, and Letran. Then we headed to the Manila Cathedral, where a wedding was taking place, and the Palacio del Governador. We capped off the day by walking to Fort Santiago, where we traced what were supposedly Jose Rizal's last few steps.

(Too bad, though, that I forgot how to go to San Agustin Church. I spent summer afternoons there and at Casa Manila as a kid, when my mom used to take me to work at the nearby ECJ Condominium.)

Total cash-out: PhP 200 for museum entrance for two, Php 50 for entrance to Fort Santiago, and PhP 50 for C2 Green Tea.

chocoks77
06-26-2007, 11:39 AM
If by chance you guys are in Davao and would want to go to a beach resort in Samal, NEVER EVER GO TO CHEMA's. They try to project themselves as a first class resort with a net-shaded swimming pool and all. They do not offer drinking water for free. Everything gets charged. You are not even allowed to bring your own food and water or if you do, you get charged. They charge 500 bucks per umbrella good for 7 heads and charge 50pesos for every head thereafter using the same umbrella. Their swimming pool's water is drawn from the sea. Water sells for 20 pesos. Food is at a premium and yet when you order ala carte, servings are good for ONE. Tiyan ng malasugui ,which is bountiful in Davao, sold in Chema's around 150-200. We were expecting it to be medium in size but to our dismay it was good for 1 only.

After swimming naman, shower na, akalain mo ang shower tubig alat pa din. Pay at a premium but everything from their end is mediocre.

Wang-Bu
06-29-2007, 09:17 AM
Sir Chocoks ano po bang medyo mura pero hindi naman patakbuhing resort / hotel diyan sa Davao? 'Yung medyo 2.5 or 3-star man lang na establisamento? At magkano po ba overnight sa mga ganitong tipong lugar?

chocoks77
07-03-2007, 04:06 PM
Sir Chocoks ano po bang medyo mura pero hindi naman patakbuhing resort / hotel diyan sa Davao? 'Yung medyo 2.5 or 3-star man lang na establisamento? At magkano po ba overnight sa mga ganitong tipong lugar?


Beach o city lang? Pano ang binabalak mo?

Wang-Bu
07-05-2007, 11:53 AM
Sir Chocoks ano po bang medyo mura pero hindi naman patakbuhing resort / hotel diyan sa Davao? 'Yung medyo 2.5 or 3-star man lang na establisamento? At magkano po ba overnight sa mga ganitong tipong lugar?


Beach o city lang? Pano ang binabalak mo?


Halo sanang city and resort, hindi pa kasi ako nakakarating ng Davao, mga 10 days ang balak ko sanang bakasyon.

atenean_blooded
07-08-2007, 12:31 AM
Nag-walking tour kami ng Intramuros noong Sabado. First stop namin, 'yung National Museum. While we weren't able to find Luna's Spoliarium there, the San Diego shipwreck exhibit more than made up for it. There are a lot of exhibits ongoing there. There's a collection of paintings by and about women on the fourth floor and an architectural photo collection as well. Too bad we got there around 2:30 PM; we barely had enough time to appreciate everything as the museum closes at 4:30. By the way, cameras aren't allowed at the National Museum. Good thing, though, that I had a camera phone at hand. Just make sure it doesn't have a flash as the light might ruin the paintings, especially the old ones.

Nasa kabilang building yung Spolarium, dun sa dating Congress building.



We next crossed the street to Intramuros. We started off at Calle Muralla and its own University Belt. I climbed the walls at Baluarte de San Diego (?) and started snapping photos of the old fortifications. I also took nice pictures of PLM (the new Atienza-type buildings just don't go well with the 60's architecture), Mapua, Lyceum, and Letran. Then we headed to the Manila Cathedral, where a wedding was taking place, and the Palacio del Governador. We capped off the day by walking to Fort Santiago, where we traced what were supposedly Jose Rizal's last few steps.

(Too bad, though, that I forgot how to go to San Agustin Church. I spent summer afternoons there and at Casa Manila as a kid, when my mom used to take me to work at the nearby ECJ Condominium.)

Total cash-out: PhP 200 for museum entrance for two, Php 50 for entrance to Fort Santiago, and PhP 50 for C2 Green Tea.


Dapat dumaan ka sa Arsobizpo at Gen. Luna streets, nang mapalapit ka sa site ng dating Ateneo Municipal, at ng pinakamagandang simbahan sa Maynila noong panahon niya, ang Iglesia de San Ignacio.

JonarSabilano
07-08-2007, 01:25 AM
Nag-walking tour kami ng Intramuros noong Sabado. First stop namin, 'yung National Museum. While we weren't able to find Luna's Spoliarium there, the San Diego shipwreck exhibit more than made up for it. There are a lot of exhibits ongoing there. There's a collection of paintings by and about women on the fourth floor and an architectural photo collection as well. Too bad we got there around 2:30 PM; we barely had enough time to appreciate everything as the museum closes at 4:30. By the way, cameras aren't allowed at the National Museum. Good thing, though, that I had a camera phone at hand. Just make sure it doesn't have a flash as the light might ruin the paintings, especially the old ones.

Nasa kabilang building yung Spolarium, dun sa dating Congress building.



We next crossed the street to Intramuros. We started off at Calle Muralla and its own University Belt. I climbed the walls at Baluarte de San Diego (?) and started snapping photos of the old fortifications. I also took nice pictures of PLM (the new Atienza-type buildings just don't go well with the 60's architecture), Mapua, Lyceum, and Letran. Then we headed to the Manila Cathedral, where a wedding was taking place, and the Palacio del Governador. We capped off the day by walking to Fort Santiago, where we traced what were supposedly Jose Rizal's last few steps.

(Too bad, though, that I forgot how to go to San Agustin Church. I spent summer afternoons there and at Casa Manila as a kid, when my mom used to take me to work at the nearby ECJ Condominium.)

Total cash-out: PhP 200 for museum entrance for two, Php 50 for entrance to Fort Santiago, and PhP 50 for C2 Green Tea.


Dapat dumaan ka sa Arsobizpo at Gen. Luna streets, nang mapalapit ka sa site ng dating Ateneo Municipal, at ng pinakamagandang simbahan sa Maynila noong panahon niya, ang Iglesia de San Ignacio.


Ah. Ito yata 'yung ino-occupy ng Clamshell ngayon, kung hindi ako nagkakamali.

Re: Spoliarium, open ba on weekends ang lumang Congress Building? Doon pa lang kasi kami sa lumang Finance building nakakapasok.

danny
07-13-2007, 05:35 AM
Sir Chocoks ano po bang medyo mura pero hindi naman patakbuhing resort / hotel diyan sa Davao? 'Yung medyo 2.5 or 3-star man lang na establisamento? At magkano po ba overnight sa mga ganitong tipong lugar?


Beach o city lang? Pano ang binabalak mo?


Halo sanang city and resort, hindi pa kasi ako nakakarating ng Davao, mga 10 days ang balak ko sanang bakasyon.



Hayyyyy Davao. Nakakamiss ang Davao lalu na nung panahong si Joey Ayala ay "alternatib" pa.

Pinadala dati kami diyan upang pag-aralan ang Kooperatibismo bago pa humataw ang Krisis Pinansyal sa Asya.

Nung dumaan ang krisis, natigok ang Cooperative Bank. Pinuntirya namin ang kanilang FX risk pero ayaw maniwala. Matibay at matatag daw ang Coop Bank. Haaaayyyyyy.....

Kumusta na ang Cooperative Movement sa Davao?

atenean_blooded
07-13-2007, 12:12 PM
Ah. Ito yata 'yung ino-occupy ng Clamshell ngayon, kung hindi ako nagkakamali.

Re: Spoliarium, open ba on weekends ang lumang Congress Building? Doon pa lang kasi kami sa lumang Finance building nakakapasok.


Tama. Yung clamshell yung dating site ng Ateneo mismo, tapos yung katabi na lote ng San Ignacio, yun yung Jesuit mission house.

Lintek naman kasi. Kaya nasunog yung magandang Intramuros building natin e marami masyadong kahoy yung edifice.

Yung San Ignacio naman, sinunog ng mga Hapon.

bluewing
07-13-2007, 04:28 PM
Ah. Ito yata 'yung ino-occupy ng Clamshell ngayon, kung hindi ako nagkakamali.

Re: Spoliarium, open ba on weekends ang lumang Congress Building? Doon pa lang kasi kami sa lumang Finance building nakakapasok.


Tama. Yung clamshell yung dating site ng Ateneo mismo, tapos yung katabi na lote ng San Ignacio, yun yung Jesuit mission house.

Lintek naman kasi. Kaya nasunog yung magandang Intramuros building natin e marami masyadong kahoy yung edifice.

Yung San Ignacio naman, sinunog ng mga Hapon.



pero buti na lang lumipat nang Katipunan. lapit sa bahay. at di ko talaga type sa manila. ang gulo. baho pa. kaya ayokong dinadalaw mga tropa ko dyan eh. no offense sa mga tiga-manila.

WampumTribe
07-25-2007, 07:31 PM
Question:

Mahigpit ba ang NAIA pagdating sa carry-on/cabin luggage? Makakalusot ba ang 78-liter backpack? Compressible naman to fit in the overhead bin, pero baka sa check-in palang harangin na.

http://s7ondemand1.scene7.com/is/image/MoosejawMB/10029861x1020696_zm?$product200$

chocoks77
07-25-2007, 08:53 PM
Question:

Mahigpit ba ang NAIA pagdating sa carry-on/cabin luggage? Makakalusot ba ang 78-liter backpack? Compressible naman to fit in the overhead bin, pero baka sa check-in palang harangin na.*

http://s7ondemand1.scene7.com/is/image/MoosejawMB/10029861x1020696_zm?$product200$




Depende sa araw bro. May araw na pwede may araw na hindi pwede ganyang bag.

WampumTribe
07-25-2007, 09:10 PM
Thanks chocoks77.

Sa Doha Airport nakabitbit na ako ng 55-liter pack (oversized na, overweight pa). Plus, may mga nakita na akong mas malaki pa na backpack as carry-on.

chocoks77
08-08-2007, 11:25 AM
Meron na bang nakapunta ng Genting Highlands sa inyo? Advise naman...Mura ba o mahal doon?

bluewing
08-08-2007, 12:48 PM
Meron na bang nakapunta ng Genting Highlands sa inyo? Advise naman...Mura ba o mahal doon?


ngayon ko lang narinig to. saan yan?

JonarSabilano
08-08-2007, 12:59 PM
Meron na bang nakapunta ng Genting Highlands sa inyo? Advise naman...Mura ba o mahal doon?


ngayon ko lang narinig to. saan yan?


Sa Malaysia. Balita sa akin ng kaibigan kong taga-Singapore, may kamahalan ang presyo doon. 'Yun ang version nila ng Baguio, mas sosyal nga lang.

chocoks77
08-08-2007, 01:36 PM
Di kaya sa Singapore ang mas mahal dahil sa kanila times 30 ang palitan ng piso, sa Malaysia e times 13 lang? Balak ko kasi pumunta dun, side trip sa pagpunta ng Singapore next month.

MargaretThrasher
08-09-2007, 11:29 AM
I've been to Genting Highlands before, but I was too young to gamble and we didn't see that much of the place so I don't know what it's like there. I guess it's expensive because everything is in "resort prices." :-\

What's a good place to stay in Puerto Princesa? I'm planning to go there with my family and of course we want a nice place to stay. If anyone also has information on how we can go sightseeing from the city (can we join a group tour or rent a van), that would be good also. Thanks.

atenean_blooded
08-09-2007, 02:56 PM
A friend got to stay in the Jesuit house in Palawan, where the islands and beaches are kick-ass, and the ocean is beautiful.

There's a little ledge where some of the Jesuits jump off every morning for a quick swim before a bath and breakfast.

You just have to watch out for dorsal fins just before you dive.

Joescoundrel
08-09-2007, 03:09 PM
I've been to Genting Highlands before, but I was too young to gamble and we didn't see that much of the place so I don't know what it's like there. I guess it's expensive because everything is in "resort prices." :-\

What's a good place to stay in Puerto Princesa? I'm planning to go there with my family and of course we want a nice place to stay. If anyone also has information on how we can go sightseeing from the city (can we join a group tour or rent a van), that would be good also. Thanks.


Try the HAGEDORN mansion... ;D

john_paul_manahan
08-19-2007, 04:17 AM
since i came from the former Crown Colony...

i find HK Disney a bit overrated. i find Ocean Park better.

flsfnoeraekadad
08-19-2007, 09:20 AM
Where is it ideal to go to burn of a 5-day term break? Ideal beach or vacation spot ideas please. And yes folks, you are not hallucinating. It's a 5-day term break.

rainmaker
09-08-2007, 10:32 AM
since there was a discussion about Malaysia - anyone who goes to KL (and can afford to spend a lot on food) must definitely visit Starhill Gallery. The ground floor of the building is probably the most expensive "Food Court" you'll find - there is a variety of restaurants (Spanish, Chinese, Thai, Malay, etc) - but everything looked so good that the hubby and i went two nights in a row to eat there (different restos naman, haha). The other floors had high end stores (LV, Dunhill, etc) naman. Think Greenbelt++.

CM_Punk
11-09-2007, 10:45 PM
Was in Bohol and Cebu late October, during semester break. Between the two locations, I enjoyed Bohol more. Lots of Korean tourists in the country as well.

lurkinggood
12-06-2007, 03:11 PM
If you have an extra day to spare while visiting Davao, try going to Paradise Island in Samal, a 10-minute ferry ride from Davao City. Entrance is still cheap at P90 per head. Beach is white sand and water is crystal clear. At high tide during early mornings, schools of fish literally swim around you.

Swerte ng mga taga Davao, they can unwind in such pristine places after busy work weeks. A few minutes of travel lang from the city, nasa beach ka na!

CM_Punk
12-07-2007, 08:32 AM
^ I stayed there for 1 night earlier this year. Yup, I would definitely recommend going to Paradise Island Beach Resort in Davao, as the beach and water is quite excellent.

oca
12-07-2007, 08:57 AM
At dahil nabanggit nyo ang Davao, try to hire a guide and make a trek at the base Mt. Apo and inwards to just about a distance of 2 or 3 kilometers, just in the general area near the Eagle Farm.

May foot trail na dyan kaya madali lang ang trekking and no climbing skills required. I hope they have not restricted the area. I was there "not too long ago".

For anyone who spents 51/52 weeks of the year in the metropolis that's the nearest experience of being in the middle of the forest one could get. Ibang klase!

Dense folliage, where one hiding 2 or 3 meters infront or behind can be completely undetected. Yung huni ng mga ibon, iba't-ibang uri, sabay-sabay parang symphony. Di mo mararamdaman ang ihip ng hangin pag naroon ka, pero malalaman mo na nandyan yung hangin dahil sa kumpas at tunog ng mga tangkay at dahon, ibang sensation ang mararamdaman mo.

Wish I was younger, I would have love to go deeper into the forest of Mt. Apo.

oca
12-07-2007, 09:04 AM
Kung ikaw yung beach person at nasa Davao ka at may nagsabing punta ka sa Pearl Farm--- huwag!

The place is nice, the accomodations superb but that place is not for those who love fine sand and clear waters. But that place is literaly a coral island those rose and grew out of the sea. Nagkalat sa coastline ang magaspang na shells. Yung mga rock formation, kitang-kita yung mga nagdikitang matutulis na shells.

By looking at all those coral features, one will not wonder why it was a pearl farm before.

Sam Miguel
03-25-2008, 01:58 PM
Try going to Magat Dam in Isabela just to do something different from the usual beach trip. Its a grueling 10-hour drive from Manila but well worth it. You can take a dip in the cool water and buy fresh fish, shrimp and crab for a pittance.

MonL
05-15-2008, 03:29 PM
Joey De Leon, by the river Seine in Paris:

"Tinanong ko kung ano ang tamang pronunciation nung pangalan noong river: SEN o SEYN.
Ang kasagot-sagot ba naman sa akin e: SEYM!" :D

bchoter
05-15-2008, 04:41 PM
^ been there, done that. But it took me less than an hour to get there from my point of origin.

LION
10-17-2008, 07:28 AM
I am* planning to go to Batanes in January next year for my first serious travel photography.

Where is the best place to stay? May internet connection ba? May Smart signal?* Any tips? Is January a good time to go there? Wala namang bagyo pag January e.

Kulang kasi yung tip na binigay ni Kid_Cubao sa first page.

Help please.* *:)*

razor
10-17-2008, 09:11 AM
Anawagin Cove in Zambales.

A no frills and tranquil place to enjoy sea and sun with calm waters and sandy beach with pine trees without the maddening crowd. Views are fantatstic and a favorite place for those into photography, trekking and camping.

With the opening of the SCTEX its only 2 hours drive away plus a 15min. boat ride.

gfy
10-17-2008, 12:03 PM
^ True. The Abad family has been inviting me to visit Batanes. Maybe I should. River Seine (seyn) just like the River Thames (thems) hehe.

LION
10-17-2008, 01:56 PM
Anawagin Cove in Zambales.

A no frills and tranquil place to enjoy sea and sun with calm waters and sandy beach with pine trees without the maddening crowd. Views are fantatstic and a favorite place for those into photography, trekking and camping.

With the opening of the SCTEX its only 2 hours drive away plus a 15min. boat ride.*


Saan eksakto ito dre?

razor
10-17-2008, 02:20 PM
^ Take-off point going to the cove is Pundakit in San Antonio, Zambales (3 or 4 towns after Subic) where you can park your car and rent rooms in one of the resorts.

The cove can only be reached after several hours of hiking or by a boat ride - the easier and fun way since you can also go island hopping. Because of its inaccessibility, the place remains pristine and uncrowded.

I've been there twice last summer after discovering the place in some travel sites. There are no amenities on the cove itself as most tourist just take a day trip then stay overnight in the resorts in San Antonio. The adventurous ones camp out at the cove overnight.

Try googling "anawagin, zambales" to check out some pics.

LION
10-17-2008, 04:27 PM
Salamat pare.

chocoks77
10-17-2008, 09:06 PM
CebPac sucks big time! Grabe na sobra sa delays >:(

yungha
10-17-2008, 09:50 PM
^i want to fly cebu pacific on my next trip just to try out the new airport. may naka-experience na ba flying in or out of the new airport? is it world-class?

AnthonyServinio
10-18-2008, 12:51 AM
^i want to fly cebu pacific on my next trip just to try out the new airport. may naka-experience na ba flying in or out of the new airport? is it world-class?

YES, it is world-class and far better than the Old Domestic Terminal. You can say that your PHP 200.00 terminal fee (for domestic flights) is really worth it.

The terminal is not as congested. Yes, it is sometimes quite far getting from the check-in counter to the boarding area but they have moving walkways to ease the burden. Some parts still need finishing and I believe these are reserved for shops and food kiosks.

LION
01-07-2009, 05:29 PM
I used the new terminal in November last year and it is definitely world-class albeit still smaller in terms of size. I think the administrator should add more food kiosks to satisfy the food cravings of the passengers.

LION
01-07-2009, 05:54 PM
whenever "boracay" is mentioned, i can't help but recall a snarky remark from a friend: "ang pagkakaiba lang ng boracay sa maynila ay maraming puting buhangin sa boracay."

anyway, kung bohol din ang pag-uusapan, you should attend their town fiestas. ugali kasi ng mga boholanos na umuwi para sa kanilang mga pista sa nayon, kaya talagang full-time at year-round ang kanilang paghahanda doon. i remember one summer when i was in college, my group made a stopover in bohol and experienced a truly boholano feast. you'll tire out from all that chewing. great beaches too.* *


I beg to disagree, sir. In Manila, you won't see women (un)dressed like this one.....* *


http://i391.photobucket.com/albums/oo358/Lensman_2008/DSC_0542-2.jpg*

That is why despite Boracay's crowded beach, I still make it a point to visit the place at least once a year.* ;D*

pio_valenz
01-07-2009, 06:15 PM
I was able to use the SCTEX going up North and back over the holidays. It takes off around 60-90 minutes of travel time since you bypass the congested area of McArthur highway stretching from Mabalacat to just after Hacienda Luisita. Ang labas mo sa La Paz, Tarlac, which is near Pangasinan already. Ang sarap humataw sa SCTEX. No buses, no stupid tricycles running only 30 km per hour that you need to overtake every five minutes, no people crossing the road...

Meron na rin directions for the alternate route to Baguio once you get to Rosales in Pangasinan. The opening of SM Rosales plus perpetually gridlocked Urdaneta makes this alternate route a must. Dito naman ang labas mo na malapit-lapit na sa La Union, around 3-4 towns na lang.

mighty_lion
01-07-2009, 06:58 PM
I was able to use the SCTEX going up North and back over the holidays. It takes off around 60-90 minutes of travel time since you bypass the congested area of McArthur highway stretching from Mabalacat to just after Hacienda Luisita. Ang labas mo sa La Paz, Tarlac, which is near Pangasinan already. Ang sarap humataw sa SCTEX. No buses, no stupid tricycles running only 30 km per hour that you need to overtake every five minutes, no people crossing the road...



Ang bad experience ko lang dyan yong palabas ng toll exit papasok ng NLEX ang haba ng pila pag rush hour. 30 minutes yata akong napila hanggang makabayad sa dulo. Pangit yong pagkaplano nila ng toll exit, hindi prepared pagmadami yong lumalabas ng halos sabay sabay.

JonarSabilano
01-07-2009, 07:23 PM
I was able to use the SCTEX going up North and back over the holidays. It takes off around 60-90 minutes of travel time since you bypass the congested area of McArthur highway stretching from Mabalacat to just after Hacienda Luisita. Ang labas mo sa La Paz, Tarlac, which is near Pangasinan already. Ang sarap humataw sa SCTEX. No buses, no stupid tricycles running only 30 km per hour that you need to overtake every five minutes, no people crossing the road...



I used SCTEX over the summer and it was good as advertised. Smooth roads, fresh air, a quick trip to Subic, and lots of greenery all around. The trip from Pampanga took only a little over an hour; in fact, hindi ko naramdaman na lumilipas ang panahon. It was that enjoyable.

Hindi natuloy ang Sagada trip ko :'(

chocoks77
03-19-2009, 06:48 PM
If by anyhow magawi kayo sa bandang gensan/sarangani, may muran ghotel/resort sa Alabel lapit sa munisipyo. Ang pangalan ay Isla Parilla. 1800 per night ang good for 4. 2500 naman ang good for 7 na family suite(2 Rooms parehong aircon, hot and cold shower, swimming pool, fishing area, boating area).

LION
03-20-2009, 02:52 PM
Just came back from Cagayan de Oro. A trip to that place is not complete without feasting on sirloin steak, pineapples and garden salad at the Del Monte clubhouse in Bukidnon.

Owning a farm in Bukidnon, especially if located along stretch going to Malaybalay where the Benedictine Abbey is situated, is every weekend farmer's dream.

amdgc82
09-01-2009, 06:59 AM
http://www.cdn.ph/images/layout/cdn_logo.jpg
SAYS TRAVEL+LEISURE MAG SURVEY
Cebu is 4th best island in Asia for 2009
By Boboi Costas
Cebu Daily News

First Posted 13:34:00 08/31/2009

Filed Under: Travel & Commuting, Tourism

http://images.inquirer.net/media/globalnation/articles/images/pic-08310406430298.jpg

CEBU, Philippines — Cebu ranked no. 4 among Asian island destinations, according to Travel + Leisure magazine, which recently rleased the results of its World’s Best Awards 2009, a listing of the best hotels, airlines, cruises in islands and cities all over the world.

No other Philippine city, island, resort, hotel, or airline made it to the listing in other categories.

The awards are based on the American magazine’s 14th Readers’ Poll survey conducted from mid-January to the end of March this year.

“An unprecedented number of new names and places made their debuts on this year’s list, sometimes unseating longtime favorites,” says Travel + Leisure editor in chief Nancy Novogrod.

Cebu got a rating of 79.68 points.

It ranked behind Bali (87.41), Maldives (84.43), and Phuket (80.93).

Respondents were asked to rate the islands based on natural attractions, activities and sights, restaurant and food, people and value.

They had to rate a candidate on a scale of 1 to 5 where “1” means poor and “5” means excellent.

In the magazine survey, Cebu island was shut out, however, from the coveted list of Top Islands Overall.

Bali with a rating of 87.41 was still no. 1.

Phuket in Thailand ranked second last year but failed to land in this year’s top ten.

Top Islands Overall rankings include: Bali (87.41), Galapagos (86.80), Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia (86.09), Kauai (85.90), Mount Desert Island in Maine (85.87), Maui in Hawaii (85.48), Aeolian Islands in Italy (85.13), Maldives (84.43), Big Island (83.92), and Vancouver Island (83.74).

For the past three years, the announcement of the World’s Best Awards winners has been preceded by the release of findings from The Survey of Affluence and Wealth in America, created by Travel + Leisure’s parent company American Express Publishing and Harrison Group, a strategic-marketing research firm.

Novogrod says she was struck by the consistency of the insights of American consumers. “They have a high regard for value and service, brand loyalty and small rewards,” she said.

The Best Islands awards were divided into geographical categories: Continental US and Canada; Hawaii; the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas; Mexico and Central and South America; Europe; Asia; and Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.

The questionnaires were developed by editors of the magazine in association with Harris Interactive, an independent research firm. They were posted in the magazine’s website.

Readers were invited to participate and a select group also received invitations by e-mail.
Respondents were screened and responses from any identified travel-industry professionals were eliminated from the final tally.

In the Condé Nast Traveler annual Readers’ Choice Survey, Cebu has occupied the seventh spot in the best island destination in Asia/Indian Ocean three times: in 2008 at 70.9, which is two points short of 2007’s 72.3 points and 2004’s 72.8 points.

Twice, it has been ranked 8th best island destination: in 2006 with 71.0 points and in 2005 with 69.5 in the same magazine survey.

Both Travel + Leisure Magazine and Condé Nast Traveler are American publications based in New York.

‘Much to be proud of

Tourism Undersecretary Phineas Alburo said the award proves that Cebu Island has a lot to be proud of.

“That's good news. It really speaks well of the destination and has erased doubts among travelers. It is a very good development,” Alburo told Cebu Daily News.

He said Travel + Leisure, based in New York, was a “prestigious” American publication.

Alburo said Cebu gets a share of 500,000 international tourists in a year while the number of local tourists exceeds more than 500,000 a year.

“Cebu has all the ingredients for an ideal destination,” he said.

He cited the island's accessibility with an international airport, natural attractions such as diving and beaches, heritage sites, and the hospitality of the people, making it one of the best destinations in Asia.

Lapu-Lapu City Vice Mayor Mario Amores said “tremendous” efforts were poured by officials into tourism development.

He said the presence of an international airport and world-class resorts were a big plus, aside from the business appeal.

“Without a business-friendly environment, these resorts would not be investing here. They look for assurance of returns on their investment and that the environment factors are stable.”

Lapu-Lapu first lady Paz Radaza, co-chairperson of the City Tourism Committee, said the recognition would encourage more cooperation between the public and private sector.

“With this recognition, it will encourage both the private and the public sector to work hard to give tourists the best amenities at par with the world standards. The recognition will make every Cebuano proud,” Radaza added.

With reports from Reporters Marian Z. Codilla and Dale G. Israel

mangtsito
12-04-2009, 08:23 AM
If you're in Batanes next week and bump into some semi-kalbo guy wearing Oakley prescription glasses and with a DSLR slinged around his neck, then that's probably me. 8)

Chat me up. If we tour together, then we can save on travel and tour guide costs. ;D I'll be there for 5 days (Dec 7-11) I'll probably be in Sabtang from Tuesday morning to wednesday morning though, but I'll be right in Batan the rest of the time.

I don't have the cojones to go to Itbayat by sea this time of the year. Probably in summer, hehe.

kerouac82
12-04-2009, 08:42 AM
Me and a bunch of friends are going on a backpacking tour of Thailand and Cambodia next May. The trip will last four days and will be on a shoestring budget. Round-trip ticket (Cebu Pac) was supposed to be PhP 6thou but was pushed to PhP 8600++ because we weren't able to book before 5PM.

There's no idea what the itinerary would be, but for sure we will not be going on those ad agency-planned tours. We'll be staying in hostels too, and my friend told me we'll be drinking a lot of Tiger and Singha. I just hope there's none of that snake wine this other friend brought home back in college ::)

danny
01-16-2010, 10:29 AM
I'm heading to Manhattan to visit an old aunt in the Upper East Side.

Aside from the pastrami of Katz' Deli, Grimaldi's Pizza, and H&H Bagel, where else can I eat authentic "local cuisine" that are not obviously tourist traps.

I'm using Zagat Ratings, as always, but I still prefer the taste buds of pinoys. Please.

chocoks77
04-01-2010, 12:31 AM
It is time to go to Hong Kong. WIll be there for 5 full days. Any recommendations on itinerary? Magkano kaya budget per head? Maganda bang sumaglit sa Macau if I am with my wife and a 2 and a half year old kid? Please enlighten me. Thanks

mangtsito
04-05-2010, 07:40 PM
Just got home from Marinduque. Club Marinduque is a good alternative if Bella Roca gets fully booked.

LION
04-06-2010, 02:16 PM
Flights to HK were fully booked. Spent the holy week instead in San Antonio, Zambales. Nice beach they have there but it was really hot and humid.

Good thing I brought my binoculars and 70-200 mm camera lens. ;D

razor
04-06-2010, 03:14 PM
Flights to HK were fully booked. Spent the holy week instead in San Antonio, Zambales. Nice beach they have there but it was really hot and humid.

Good thing I brought my binoculars and 70-200 mm camera lens. ;D


Di you go to Anawangin Cove?

LION
04-06-2010, 05:21 PM
Flights to HK were fully booked. Spent the holy week instead in San Antonio, Zambales. Nice beach they have there but it was really hot and humid.

Good thing I brought my binoculars and 70-200 mm camera lens. ;D


Di you go to Anawangin Cove?


Unfortunately we didn't have the time. We stayed at the beach house of a friend. But we intend to go to Anawangin this year. The roads are well paved and going there is a breeze.

mangtsito
06-15-2010, 03:38 PM
^ Wrong thread? ???

Kid Cubao
06-15-2010, 04:14 PM
^probably someone who needs therapy badly.

MonL
06-16-2010, 08:07 AM
^ More likely a Lewis Carroll wannabe. Can somebody just smite him with a vorpal sword? :P

lurkinggood
06-16-2010, 11:35 AM
or another spam...

danny
06-21-2010, 01:01 AM
Another year, another San Francisco vacation. To be honest, San Fran is way cleaner, friendlier and relaxing than self-absorbed Manhattan.

New York The city that brought us the world financial crisis. The West Coast culture is more "human" than plastic Manhattan with all the filth and pretensions of those non-upper east side (not even upper-west side) commuters. But indeed the filthy subway is the fundamental democtratizing experience that keeps this city from exploding along ethnic/racial/class lines. I don't know...I don't care... :D :D

Next objective in San Francisco, BOCCALONE SALUMERIA.

http://www.boccalone.com/Salumeria

http://lh5.ggpht.com/_1eC00ALSHt4/SkpTJyQj8CI/AAAAAAAAE7Y/i0l3NmFftBo/s512/f8f3c73d-4212-4018-8407-75632e3c8445.jpg

danny
07-31-2010, 09:25 AM
Seattle muna ng tatlong araw over the long weekend. Next month, San Fran naman. :D

muffetteer
08-24-2010, 11:25 AM
Anyone been to Cinque Terre in Italy? Is it worth the supposed 2.5-hour uncomfortable train ride from Florence if we're only spending a day there?

mangtsito
08-24-2010, 02:47 PM
Would anyone know if it's still stormy season in Coron in early October? What about Siargao?

salsa caballero
08-24-2010, 02:52 PM
In years past, Coron was okay in October. But honestly, with climate change, it's now hard to say. If you do go , try to see if you can stay at Majika resort; only 35 mins. by banca from the pier. They have nice deals for full accommodations, meals, guided wreck dives, etc. Spartan lodgings but clean and well maintained.

mangtsito
08-24-2010, 02:57 PM
^ Thanks! I actually already signed up with a tour group with a fixed schedule. I just wanted to have an idea if I'm bound to regret it, hehe. ;D

Schortsanitis
10-30-2010, 09:35 AM
Puede ba isama sa thread na ito ang "Time Travel"? LOL
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6a4T2tJaSU

Joescoundrel
04-20-2011, 09:50 AM
Stay-cation is the way to go during Holy Week, where you have the city all to yourself. And unlike in bygone eras, there's plenty to do even on Good Friday. Any of the weekend packages of the four- to five-star hotels is always a welcome treat.

admin
05-01-2012, 02:52 PM
El Nido named best Philippine beach

ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 04/30/2012 6:58 PM | Updated as of 04/30/2012 6:59 PM


MANILA, Philippines – Boracay island has been hailed several times as the country’s best beach destination, but according to a website, it only comes second to El Nido in Palawan.

CNNGo, the travel news website of the Cable News Network, made a list of the “Philippines’ best beaches and islands” which was published on Monday in time for CNN's week-long "Eye on the Philippines" specials.

El Nido ranked first in the list for its “majestic karst limestone formations, empty lagoons, marble cliffs, prehistoric caves and waterfalls.”

“Sure, it’s got powder-fine beaches and gin-clear waters. But the views are what really sell the place,” the website said.

CNNGo also cited that El Nido has become popular among international shows and movies, with scenes for “The Amazing Race” and the upcoming “Bourne Legacy” movie shot there.

Boracay’s White Beach was named the second best Philippine beach, followed by Palaui island in Cagayan Valley and Panglao in Bohol.

CNNGo said Bantayan island in Cebu is the “quiet” version of Boracay, ranking fifth on the website’s list.

Caramoan, where international programs such as “Survivor” were shot, placed sixth, followed by Samal in Davao, Siargao islands in Surigao del Norte, Great Santa Cruz island in Zamboanga, and Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte.

“Picking a favorite beach in the Philippines is like trying to pick a favorite child. Challenging, but not impossible,” CNNGo said.

Sam Miguel
12-11-2012, 11:13 AM
Will a new generation of tourists rediscover Baguio?

11:39 pm | Friday, December 7th, 2012

LAWYER Damaso E. Bangaet Jr., founder of Panagbenga; Camp John Hay Development Corp. COO Alfredo Yñiguez; DOT-CAR director Purificacion Molintas; Camp John Hay Leisure Corp. managing director Heiner Maulbecker; The Manor and The Forest Lodge GM Ramon Cabrera

The Yuletide season officially started at The Manor with a recent Christmas lighting ceremony at the resort hotel’s Manor Garden. Dubbed as “Magical Christmas,” the event was hailed by Manor executives, led by German managing director Heinrich Maulbecker, as the first of its kind in the Baguio-based hotel’s young history.

It was no ordinary lighting ceremony, as the event also featured a synchronized light show and fireworks display that instantly dazzled and warmed the hearts of young and old alike, as they basked in the city’s nippy December weather.

Hotel guests feasted on free-flowing drinks and various dishes, including Filipino holiday staples such as bibingka and puto bumbong, prepared by chef Billy King and set up buffet-style just outside Le Chef, the Manor’s signature restaurant.

Dressed as cosplay characters, students from the University of Cordillera were among the evening’s featured performers. The Hive Band, a group of homegrown musicians, sang a repertoire of pop and jazz standards, including a number of OPM classics.

Hotel personnel, under the direction of Filipino general manager Ramon Cabrera, toiled for several days before the launch to produce their version of White Christmas, complete with dangling Tivoli and LED lights, pine trees with trunks wrapped in faux snow and larger-than-life lanterns shaped like snowmen.

Vignettes

Each set of decorations was clustered into vignettes, with one featuring life-size circus animals under a makeshift tent. Thanks to piped-in Christmas songs, a gazebo lined with white Christmas lights and featuring a number of stools and sofas, including a pair of rocking chairs, doubled as a music room.

This year, the hotel shares the holiday cheer with special children belonging to A Child’s DREAM Foundation, Baguio’s first pediatric therapy center for kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy and other mental and sensory impairments.

Guests can extend their help by buying small holiday trimmings in the shape of angels, lanterns and Christmas trees. The trimmings would adorn the Manor’s Christmas tree at the lobby, while proceeds from their sale would go directly to the foundation.

Nestled in the sprawling pine forest of Camp John Hay, a former American military camp used for rest and recreation, the four-story, 180-room Manor has become one of Baguio’s premier tourist destinations since it opened in 1999.

Maulbecker, who has been based in the Philippines for almost 30 years now, considers Baguio his second home. As GM of the ill-fated Hyatt Terraces, the first five-star hotel to open in Baguio, he lost his first wife, a Filipino, to the 1990 earthquake that devastated vast areas of Northern Luzon.

He knows the importance of tourism to the city’s economy. But unlike such tourist attractions as Boracay, El Nido and even Tagaytay, Baguio relies mainly on local tourists.

Foreign tourists, especially those living in temperate countries, have little incentive to go to Baguio for obvious reasons. But for Filipinos, Baguio is the next best thing there is to experiencing winter-like weather.

Foreigners, mostly Americans and Koreans, who frequent the Manor are already based in the city either as students or executives of several multinational companies with offices there.

Apart from being a university town, the city also has a thriving BPO industry, which explains the considerable presence of young people in their late teens and early 20s.

No memories

“Lately, we also have to deal with the challenge of attracting young Filipinos with no memories of Baguio while growing up,” he said. “How do you make them come and visit the city?”

To previous generations of Filipinos who regularly trooped to Baguio several times a year, especially when temperatures in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon begin to soar in March and April, this may sound unthinkable.

But the advent of cheap and frequent flights to other destinations both here and abroad have lured regular and potential tourists away from Baguio.

“During the last three years, there have been more destinations coming out,” said Maulbecker. “People have more choices. And with budget airlines, they can now fly to Macau, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur.”

Meanwhile, commercial flights from Manila have stopped flying to Baguio for several years now. Maulbecker cites delays and scheduling problems, which made the service unpopular among travelers and unprofitable for airlines.

Flying to Baguio, because of its mountainous topography, depends a great deal on timing and actual visual cues. Flights are usually cancelled on rainy and cloudy days. The ideal time to fly in and out of Baguio was between 7 and 9 a.m., said Maulbecker. Flying in the late afternoon is definitely a no-no.

“There have been quite a number of times when flights got delayed, cancelled or even diverted somewhere else,” he said. “By the time you learn about the cancellation, you’ve already spent three hours at the airport. Had you taken the car or bus, you would have already been in Tarlac by then.”

So-called deluxe, nonstop trips offered by a number of bus companies have filled in the void left by airlines. Since these buses have their own restrooms, travel time from Baguio to Manila, and vice versa, has been cut short to less than five hours compared to the usual six.

When he first arrived in Baguio in the early ’80s, one of the first things Maulbecker did as a hotel executive was to work with locals in creating a tourist map of the city identifying places of interest. It became a hit among tourists.

“It wasn’t a walking tour,” he said. “The map was more of a reference material because people in the hospitality business then assumed that everyone knew where to go and what to do in Baguio. For the poor tourist, that wasn’t always the case. We called it ‘Rediscover Baguio.’”

Even now, there will always be a constant need for tourists to rediscover Baguio. And people at the Manor are doing their best to make sure that they do.

Sam Miguel
12-11-2012, 11:16 AM
Parade cum dancefest: Iriga’s red-letter day

By Amadís Ma. Guerrero

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:40 am | Saturday, November 17th, 2012

In and around the plaza in Iriga City, Camarines Sur, looming under the shadow of Mt. Asog, you will find the heartbeat of the city.

Here you will come upon the historical church of St. Anthony of Padua, health and fitness matronas limbering up before the monument of Rizal and the Muse of Literature, behind them an ersatz Statue of Liberty, the Iriga Plaza Hotel, a colonial, “dysfunctional” City Hall, the Emerald Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes above a modern, tube-like Convention Center; a bahay na bato, the Trinidad Building; and a shopping arcade.

Iriga recently celebrated its 44th Charter Foundation Anniversary, under the aegis of “cool” Mayor Madeleine Alfelor-Gazman. Guest of honor was young Migz Villafuerte, entrepreneur and gubernatorial hopeful.

A 1939 plaque of the Philippine Historical Committee informs the visitor that the first church burned down in 1585, while a second was damaged by a typhoon and destroyed by fire. The same fate awaited a third church constructed in 1727. The present church, along with the two belfries, was built shortly afterwards.

The parish has since been repainted in modern pastel colors but retains its majesty, accented by the two belfries. The watch tower in front shows signs of wear-and-tear, but remains charming with its sculptural heads of little cherubs.

City Hall has been relocated elsewhere but the old building, in need of restoration for some other purpose (a call center or hotel), retains its air of decaying colonial splendor.

One hopes that they will not renovate it in the same way that the Art Deco Jai-alai building in Manila was demolished and recreated into a nondescript modern building, during the term of Mayor Lito Atienza.

Iriga lies 478 kilometers south of Manila, bracketed by Naga City in Camarines Sur and Legazpi City in Albay.

The place to stay in the city is the Iriga Plaza, an elegant and tastefully decorated boutique hotel with fan-shaped windows, translucent curtains, a porthole which approximates a flower in bloom; and mini-chandeliers with capiz shells.

The city has two volcanoes, Mt. Asog (where a rare and endangered flower specie, Rafflesia irigaense, has been found) and Mt. Isarog; two big universities, the University of St. Anthony of Padua and the University of Northeastern Philippines; a Gawad Kalinga Character Village; and a kind of museum known as “Nora Aunor’s Nook” (the superstar was born and raised here).

Iriga lacks a night life, strange for a city that is rapidly progressing. But you can have beer in the hotels and sing in the discreetly located videokes. Singing “My Way,” however, is a no-no, because the NPAs who are supposed to infest the province just might shoot up the place.

The foundation anniversary celebrations lasted for five days, and emphasized sports and physical activity.

These included a Fun Walk, medical mission, tree planting, the Mt. Asog Extreme Bike Challenge, a bar association exhibition game, billiards tournament, scouts run, shootfest, a civic-military parade and finally a pop-rock concert.

The parade drew contingents, including prancing children, from all over CamSur.

Before the parade there was a rousing dancefest featuring folk dancing, choral singing, modern ballet, hip-hop, gymnastics and an interpretive tribute to the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, a Bicolano, and of course a tribute to Bicolandia’s patron, Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia.

All these activities took place under the watchful eye of Our Lady, high up in her Emerald Grotto.

Sam Miguel
12-11-2012, 11:18 AM
Now, flying economy can be a class act

By Vangie Baga-Reyes

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:41 am | Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Sleek. Comfy. Spacious.

These best describe the newest feature of Cathay Pacific’s newly delivered Boeing 777-300ER, the latest addition to CX’s growing fleet.

Its newest aircraft has the much-talked-about Premium Economy Class (PEY), Cathay’s offering to its loyal passengers who prefer to fly economy class but eager to experience the comfort and service of business class.

“PEY redefines our customers’ travel experience,” said Ivan Chan, Cathay’s corporate communication manager. “We’ve seen the potential market between business and economy classes.”

PEY is an additional chic seats located in between business and economy zones. It’s a breakthrough for travelers who want to feel extra special without having to burn a hole in their pockets.

With PEY, there’s no need to endure a long flight in a cramped economy class. PEY offers a quieter, more spacious living space in a separate cabin with only 26 or 34 seats per aircraft. The seat pitch is 38 inches—six inches more than economy class—and the well-cushioned seat itself is wider and has a bigger recline.

“Passengers flying on Cathay’s PEY class will finally enjoy their own defined space,” said Chan. “The cabin has a more contemporary and relaxed setting. People will also enjoy more leg room.”

PEY seat allows passengers to tilt back their seats without disturbing passengers seated behind them. The eight inches of recline make resting and sleeping easy and gentle. Even the head and neck support can also be tilted at different angles for a more comfy rest.

The individual seat also has a large meal table, generous armrests and cocktail table, footrest, an in-seat power outlet, a multi-port connector for personal devices and extra personal stowage space.

The in-seat multi-port connector allows passengers to stream audio and video from personal devices to the 10.6-inch widescreen personal television with a noise-canceling headset. About hundreds of selections—current movies, TV shows, games etc.—on the StudioCX in-flight entertainment system are available.

All PEY passengers get collectible amenity kits from home-grown HK brand GOD (Goods of Desire) with dental kit, socks, eyeshade and earplugs for use during the journey.

But more than introducing a totally new seat and entertainment system on air, Cathay has also fashioned a total customer experience to make it more special for its PEY clients—on the ground.

There’ll be priority check-ins at specific counters for PEY, priority boarding before economy class passengers, and an increase in baggage allowance from 20 kg to 25 kg or two pieces of baggage from 23 kg to 25 kg each.

Delivery flight experience

We recently had the privilege to experience the luxurious PEY. We joined the delivery flight of Boeing 777-300ER (Extended Range) that took off from the Boeing mega factory in Everett, Seattle, and flew to HK.

A simple turnover ceremony between Boeing and Cathay officials was held before B777-300ER rolled out of the factory and got off the Everett runway with Captain Colin Couch in the cockpit.

The aircraft wasn’t a commercial flight yet till we, with other journalists from South Africa, Dubai and the US, Cathay executives, its business partners and friends, reached HK. There, regular passengers boarded the new aircraft.

Once on board, we felt good catching the spanking clean, airy and new car-like smell of the newly acquired aircraft.

We were welcomed with a glass of champagne, handed a saucer of mixed nuts and given a tour of the aircraft—from the business class with the new herringbone-design flat-bed seats and PEY cabin to the economy section, the cabin crew’s sleeping nook on the second level at the back of the plane and the pilot’s rest area near the cockpit.

Then came the premium treatment—a bottle of water, additional snack choices that include more cashew and macadamia nuts, a dinner of seared fillet of sea bass with lemon dill tarragon caper sauce, and a black cotton pajama set from Shanghai Tang that we wore for the entire flight. The pajama set, however, is given only to first-class passengers but Cathay wanted us to feel extra special during the journey. (Just for the record, B777-300ER has no first class, only business, PEY and economy.)

The flight was smooth and easy. There was enough legroom and distance between the seat in front and the one behind you. The three-position footrest even helped us find a variety of positions we need to stretch our tired legs.

More Boeing fleet

Air travel has indeed gone a long way. Cathay, widely acknowledged to be one of the best in the world, has exerted all efforts and spent millions to improve ground and air services and amenities to keep up with today’s lifestyle.

PEY is being progressively introduced on Boeing 777-300ER, selected Boeing 747-400, selected Airbus A330-300 and Airbus A340-300 aircraft.

By the end of 2012, Cathay Pacific will have 48 aircraft installed with the new PEY. And, by the end of 2013, 87 aircraft in the airline’s long-haul fleet will feature PEY.

“People have been asking whether PEY would encourage passengers to downgrade from business class to economy,” said Chan. “But, we don’t actually see it that way. In fact, we are encouraging people traveling from economy class to premium economy. We already get positive feedback on PEY from those taking long flights to, like, London, San Francisco and Johannesburg.”

PEY is on select flights on long-haul routes—Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Toronto, Vancouver, New York, London, Johannesburg, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Frankfurt, Paris, Brisbane, Cairns, Delhi and Dubai.

According to Chan, CX has a total aircraft order of 99 to be delivered by 2020 with a value of almost HK$215.7 billion. CX is investing more than HK$3 billion in products (including new business/PEY/economy seats etc.) and in service enhancements.

Better journey

“We’ve been in the business for quite a long time,” said John R. Slosar, Cathay’s chief executive officer. “Normally we don’t introduce a product unless we are very sure that we make something good out of it.”

He added: “There’s a segment of passengers who would be glad to pay more for better seats and ample space, but don’t want to go business class because it’s quite expensive, but they’re happy to pay a bit more than economy.”

PEY’s target market are economy passengers who would like to upgrade and get better experience but still economy sort of price level.

Cathay’s acquisitions of B777-300ER, Slosar said, stemmed from its desire to offer additional flexibility in serving the nonstop routes that passengers demand. The new aircraft offers twin-engine efficiency, aerodynamics improvements, greater fuel capacity and long-range reliability. The airplane carries 386 passengers.

“What excites me on this plane is that it can fly anywhere nonstop,” said Slosar. “We fly 16 hours New York and Los Angeles and back to anywhere in Europe. It allows us to serve anywhere in such a modern way with great seats, great crew rest, advanced technology. It works for everybody.”

Sam Miguel
12-11-2012, 11:19 AM
Full flat-bed seats on Delta’s Boeing 747-400

11:32 pm | Friday, December 7th, 2012

Delta Air Lines has completed the renovation of all 16 Boeing 747-400 aircraft to include full flat-bed seats in the BusinessElite cabin, and more personal space and individual in-seat entertainment throughout the Economy cabin.

Each 747 has 48 BusinessElite full flat-bed seats featuring direct aisle access for every seat, USB port and a personal LED reading lamp. Each seat comes with a 15.4-inch wide-screen video monitor with instant access to more than 1,000 entertainment options, including more than 300 films, 88 hours of TV programming, nearly 100 hours of premium programming from HBO and Showtime, 27 video games, and over 5,000 digital music tracks.

Like all of Delta’s international fleet, the 747s feature the Economy Comfort product, which includes up to four additional inches of legroom for 35 full inches of seat pitch and 50 percent more recline. Delta’s 747 aircraft each have 42 Economy Comfort seats.

Customers seated in Economy Comfort will enjoy priority boarding and complimentary spirits throughout the flight. These benefits are in addition to Delta’s standard international Economy class amenities, including complimentary meals, beer, wine, entertainment, blankets and pillows.

All seats feature a headrest with adjustable wings, height and tilt, USB power and an industry-leading nine-inch touchscreen featuring personal on-demand entertainment including the same extensive library of entertainment choices as those offered in BusinessElite.

Delta operates daily between Manila and New York’s JFK airport via the Tokyo-Narita hub, and five times weekly to Detroit via Nagoya.

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 08:48 AM
Singapore Airlines to focus on Asia after Virgin divestment

By Martin Abbugao

Agence France-Presse

3:47 am | Thursday, December 13th, 2012 SINGAPORE—Singapore Airlines’ sale of its 49-percent stake in Virgin Atlantic will allow the cash-rich Asian carrier to focus resources on its fast-growing regional market, analysts said Wednesday.

The Singapore carrier’s tie-up with British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic never really took off since the alliance began 12 years ago when the stake was bought for 600 million pounds ($966.5 million).

Singapore Airlines (SIA) on Tuesday said it will sell the stake to Delta Air Lines of the United States for $360 million in cash in a deal to be completed next year.

SIA said it “had been evaluating strategic options for the stake for some time, as the investment has not performed to expectations and the synergies the parties originally hoped for have not materialized.”

Analysts said SIA, consistently one of the world’s most profitable airlines, had little say in how Virgin Atlantic was run by the flamboyant Branson, and the sale allows it to exit an underperforming investment in the troubled European market.

“SIA can now focus on investments in the Asia Pacific region,” Brendan Sobie, a Singapore-based analyst with industry consultancy Centre for Aviation, told AFP.

Sobie said it made more sense for Delta to have a strategic stake in Virgin Atlantic as there are more synergies in their trans-Atlantic network.

Jason Hughes, an analyst with IG Markets Singapore, said that despite the higher acquisition price paid by SIA, the $360 million “will go down as a profit, as losses had already been accounted for in previous years”.

SIA shares closed 1.12 percent higher at Sg$10.87 as investors cheered the divestment.

Malaysian bank CIMB said in a note that the sale would give SIA a “short-term boost” but urged investors to focus on the long-term challenges posed by Middle Eastern carriers and budget airlines.

Shukor Yusof, an aviation analyst with Standard & Poor’s Equity Research, said SIA can use the extra cash to “redefine its business strategy on top of beefing up its regional subsidiaries”.

“It’s also good to exit out of Europe because the market conditions there are quite atrocious,” he told AFP.

Shukor said conflicting management styles with Branson was one of the chief reasons why the alliance failed to prosper beyond a code-sharing agreement.

“Branson remained the controlling shareholder and he called the shots,” he said.

Virgin Atlantic also did not have enough slots at London’s high-traffic Heathrow airport for SIA to latch on in its bid to gain a share of the lucrative trans-Atlantic route to New York, Shukor added.

Analysts said SIA’s decision to buy the stake in Virgin Atlantic in March 2000 was a good move at the time because Asia was just emerging from the 1997-1998 financial crisis.

But the center of global economic power has since shifted to Asia, sparking a travel boom in the region.

Passenger traffic in the Asia Pacific is forecast to account for 33 percent of the global market in 2016, up from 29 percent in 2011, according to trade body International Air Transport Association (IATA).

“This makes the region the largest regional market for air transport, ahead of North America and Europe which each represent 21 percent,” IATA said in a statement on their latest industry forecast.

SIA has been investing both in the premium travel segment, where it faces competition from Middle East carriers, and in the low-cost market where it is challenged by budget airlines.

SIA in June launched a long-haul budget wing called Scoot while maintaining a substantial stake in low-fare carrier Tiger Airways. It also operates a regional wing, SilkAir.

SIA and Scoot in October announced orders for 45 Airbus and Boeing aircraft. The orders came after SilkAir in August said it would buy 54 new Boeing planes with an option to buy a further 14 aircraft.

Joescoundrel
12-18-2012, 08:23 AM
Passenger protection

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:08 pm | Monday, December 17th, 2012

At last, a law to protect passengers against airline companies’ unfair policies and practices is in place. After three public hearings attended by airline representatives and consumer groups, the “bill of rights for air passengers and carrier obligations” was approved on Dec. 3 and signed on Dec. 10 by Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya and Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo. It takes effect on Dec. 21, in time for the influx of balikbayan and tourists for the yearend holidays.

The bill of rights sets guidelines on overbooking, rebooking, ticket refunds, cancelled and delayed flights, lost luggage, and misleading ads on fares—the top causes of passenger complaints since air transport was liberalized in the country in 1995. It stipulates airline obligations in cases of death and bodily injury, and an express lane for persons with disabilities and senior citizens. It covers both local and foreign carriers.

“There is a need to infuse a certain measure of balance, fairness and reasonableness between the precarious position of passengers vis-à-vis the vast resources at the disposal of the air carrier,” the DOTC-DTI Administrative Order No. 1 reads in part.

Data from the Civil Aeronautics Board show that air passengers filed 81 complaints in 2011, up from 77 in 2010. Of the complaints, 45 percent involved a demand for a refund; 14 percent, unfair practices, negligence of personnel, and “insensitive” treatment of affected passengers; 10 percent, cancelled flights; 7 percent, delayed flights, denied boarding, and lost luggage; and 3 percent, misleading ads. The number of complaints is actually higher as many air passengers vent their inconveniences in social media like Facebook or Twitter. Another major venue for passenger complaints is the London-based Skytrax, reputedly the world’s leading airline and airport review site. It is often cited as “the voice of the world’s airline passengers,” with its Passengers Choice Awards voted by more than 18 million air travelers from about 100 countries in 2011.

One infamous incident in local air travel involved the airport tiff between celebrities that stemmed from a local budget airline’s decision to load one party’s luggage on a different flight, causing the initial anger of that party against the airline staff, which the other party witnessed—and recorded.

A local carrier also came under fire this year after the House of Representatives was asked to look into that airline’s treatment of persons with disabilities. The request for an inquiry was made following reports that a passenger, a leg amputee, had chosen to crawl down the airplane ramp at Singapore’s Changi airport instead of paying the fee for the wheelchair lift. In 2010, a local carrier was similarly accused of discrimination for refusing to allow a “special child” on a flight, citing a reported company policy of not allowing more than one person with special needs at any given time on a plane.

Under the new travelers’ bill of rights, no passenger may be denied boarding unless there is a legal and valid cause, such as immigration issues, safety and security, health concerns, or nonappearance at the gate at the appointed boarding time.

For cancelled flights, an airline should notify passengers using public announcement or text messaging. Passengers should be given—for free—sufficient meals, hotel accommodation, transport from the airport, phone calls, texts, e-mails or first aid. Passengers may choose to rebook their flights without additional cost. Passengers affected by overbooking are entitled to the same benefits. In case the airline cancels the flight because of force majeure, passengers have the right to be reimbursed the full value of the fare.

Similarly, an airline should transport any off-loaded luggage on the next available flight, deliver it to the passenger either personally or to the residence, or risk paying P2,000 for every 24 hours of late delivery. After seven days of nondelivery, the luggage will be deemed lost and the passenger will be paid the equivalent of about P17,000.

For promotions such as the popular “one-peso” or “zero” fares, airlines are now required to include in their announcements all other incidental costs (airport taxes, fuel surcharges, etc.) to avoid shocking would-be travelers when they see the total cost of the tickets they had bought.

This bill of rights is late in coming, but now air travelers no longer have to endure insensitive airline staff, unfair booking policies, or delayed and cancelled flights. Consumers are finally armed.

Sam Miguel
01-04-2013, 08:34 AM
Why PH did not become a UK colony

By Tonette Orejas

Inquirer Northern Luzon

11:15 pm | Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

BACOLOR, Pampanga—The Philippines did not become a British colony and credit is due, in part, to the loyalty of the Kapampangan, particularly of Bacolor town, to Spain and their bravery in battles.

The not-so-little known roles Bacolor played in the course of the country’s history are remembered every Oct. 8, when the town served as the capital of the Spanish colony 250 years ago.

Bacolor was thrust into the maelstrom because of Britain’s Seven Years’ War in Europe, according to Robby Tantingco, executive director of the Center for Kapampangan Studies.

“The British invaded Spanish colonies, including Manila in October 1762. The colony’s lieutenant governor, Simon de Anda y Salazar, transferred the seat of government to Bacolor, a town far enough from Manila to make it out of reach for British attack but not that far for Anda to stage a counterattack,” Tantingco said.

Anda chose Bacolor as base of the resistance movement because aside from geography, it was “home to the King of Spain’s most loyal and brave subjects,” Tantingco said.

He said historical records show King Charles II (1661-1700) lauding the Kapampangan for their “great fidelity in my service.”

Local Castillians

Fray Gaspar de San Agustin, in a 1751 document, wrote that the Kapampangan were the “Castilians of these islands.” “One Spaniard and three Pampangans are equal to four Spaniards,” the Augustinian friar said.

Felipe del Pan, a 19th century Spanish journalist, observed that the Kapampangan were “the loyal companions of our disgraces and our glories.”

Pampanga loyalty also became evident in the battlefield.

The General Evening Post in London, in an April 1763 article, reported that “a thousand Malays (Pampangos) … armed only with bows, arrows and lances, advanced up to the very muzzles of the English pieces” when the British attacked Intramuros amid a typhoon on Oct. 5, 1762.

“(The Pampangos) repeated their assaults and died like wild beasts, gnawing the bayonets. Had their skill and weapons been equal to their strength and ferocity, it would have cost the English dear,” the Post said.

“Many Kapampangan in the region, those from Bulacan, Zambales, other provinces helped Spain defend the colony. That’s why we are not British,” said Tantingco.

Anda obelisk

Some 10,000 troops from Anda encircled Manila and Cavite. When the Seven Years’ War was over in 1763, Spain claimed victory in the Philippines.

“Royal fiscal Francisco Leandro Viana, who was in Manila during the 20-month British Occupation, told King Charles III in 1765: ‘The English conquest of the Philippines was just an imagined one, as the English never owned any land beyond the range of the cannons in Manila,’” Tantingco said.

Local officials unveiled on Oct. 8 a 15-foot tall obelisk in memory of Anda. The obelisk stands in front of the town hall, which is across the former site of the Casa Real, the seat of the provincial government.

The obelisk is a replica of an Anda monument on Bonifacio Drive in Manila. But the one in Manila, built in 1876, was supposedly inspired by an obelisk built in Bacolor in 1853, said historian Francis Musni, citing a report by the El Oriente, a Spanish magazine.

Musni said the Anda memorial in Bacolor was destroyed when Spanish forces burned the town in 1899 to flush out Filipino revolutionaries.

The town council passed a resolution renaming the town Villa de Bacolor, an honorific title the King of Spain gave to Bacolor in gratitude for its role in the British Occupation.

Bacolor Mayor Jomar Hizon said Mt. Pinatubo’s 1991 eruptions and lahar flows, which buried the town, except for the St. William the Hermit Church, delayed the planned recognition rites.

Sam Miguel
01-04-2013, 08:40 AM
PH island hotel among best worldwide, says travel magazine

T+L 500 spotlights top hotels for food, romance, and location

9:37 pm | Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

NEW YORK, NY – Seventy-nine properties, including Bardessono Hotel, Yountville, California; The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Nevada; Proximity Hotel, Greensboro, North Carolina; W Retreat & Spa, Vieques, Puerto Rico; Ca’ Sagredo Hotel, Venice, Italy; and Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam, are making their debut on the annual T+L 500 list of best hotels in the world this year.

The 2013 T+L 500 guide, featured in the January issue of Travel + Leisure®, on newsstands December 21, and on www.travelandleisure.com/ now, is a compendium of the highest-ranking hotels and resorts worldwide, based on data collected in the Travel + Leisure 2012 World’s Best Awards readers’ survey.

The eleventh annual T+L 500 list includes 83 Hall of Fame hotels that have been on the T+L 500 for 10 consecutive years. The list also highlights properties that readers ranked high in specific areas, such as food, romance, and location. And, the editors spotlight the best wine-country escapes in Europe, among other categories.

Follow the 2013 T+L 500 conversation on Twitter with #TL500, and catch up with T+L 500 editor Sarah Spagnolo during a one-hour chat on January 9 at 6 pm EST at faceboook.com/travelandleisure. You can also follow Travel + Leisure on Instagram to see behind-the-scenes photos shot by T+L editors and photographers.

To vote in the Travel + Leisure 2013 World’s Best Awards readers’ survey visit www.tlworldsbest.com.

abcdef
01-04-2013, 01:36 PM
Just a question guys. . .has anybody been to Fiji? Our family is planning a vacation and we are torn between Hongkong and Fiji. So anybody been there? How was it? thanks!

Sam Miguel
01-09-2013, 08:14 AM
^^^ PM 5FootCarrot, she'll fill you in.

6 rights you have as an airline passenger

by Aya Lowe

Posted on 12/10/2012 5:39 PM | Updated 12/11/2012 7:42 PM

Airline passengers have rights the government wants local and foreign carriers to observe.

MANILA, Philippines - The Air Passenger Bill of Rights is out and will take effect December 21.

As an airline passenger, these are the key things you need to know:

1. Offloaded baggage

If your checked-in baggage were offloaded from the flight you're in due to "operational, safety, or security reasons," the airline has to inform you ASAP, give you a report, and ensure that your offloaded baggage is carried in the next flight with available space.

The airline should deliver the baggage to you within an hour from the time the flight carrying your baggage arrives at your destination. The airline must pay you P2,000 for every 24 hours that your baggage is delayed. A fraction of a day shall be considered as one day.

2. Overbooked flights

An airline is allowed to overbook a flight -- an industry practice of selling more than the seats the aircraft has, based on demand-supply for a specific flight -- as long as the passengers who are bumped off do so voluntarily.

If you volunteer to choose a different flight, the airline will offer you compensation in the form of amenities or cash incentives.

If the number of volunteers is not enough to resolve the overbooking, the airline is mandated to increase the compensation package by adding more services until the required number of volunteers is met.

3. Airline promotions

All airlines have to outline their the limitations and restrictions in both English and Filipino.

When advertising promotions, along with disclosing refund and rebooking policies, baggage allowance policies, government taxes and surcharges, other mandatory fees and charges, the airlines also have to include the number of seats offered.

4. Check-in

If you arrive within the designated check-in area at least one hour before the flight's published time of departure, you will not be considered late and the carrier is obliged to make sure you are checked in within the deadline.

5. Flight cancellation

If your flight is cancelled, you have to be notified beforehand via public announcement or written notice such as through a text message.

If an air carrier cancels the flight because of force majeure, safety or security reasons the passenger shall have the right to be reimbursed for the full value of the fare.

6. Flight delays

In the case of delayed departures, airlines are required to provide free food, drinks, Internet access, phone use and, in extreme circumstances, hotel lodging until the flight departs.

Your flight is considered cancelled if it is delayed at least 6 hours after the original departure time. You have the right to be compensated accordingly. - Rappler.com

Sam Miguel
01-15-2013, 10:34 AM
‘Binhi ng Kalayaan’ at Rizal Park spruced up, now a picnic spot

By Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

7:32 am | Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Finally, families and couples visiting the 54-hectare Rizal Park in Manila will have a decent place for a picnic.

To mark its 50th founding anniversary, the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) formally opened to the public the Binhi ng Kalayaan Garden, on Monday, the latest attraction at the Rizal Park named after the bronze sculpture “Binhi ng Kalayaan” installed during the Philippine centennial in 1998.

Then a bare and dull spot that was a likely target for garbage dumping, the garden has been spruced up to serve as the “No. 1 picnic area” for Filipino families and foreign park-goers, and as a reception venue for special occasions such as birthday parties, weddings, product launching and art exhibits.

According to NDCP Executive Director Juliet Villegas, the agency spent roughly P10 million to renovate the area, which has been neglected for many years.

“To be very candid about it, this used to be a site for dumping garbage. But there are many trees, it’s very lush so we find it more appropriate to make sure that this is enjoyed by the public,” said Villegas in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Monday.

The garden, nestled in the eastern section of the sprawling park, also known as Luneta, is now dotted with stone tables and chairs and barbeque grills under copses of trees.

At the entrance stands the monument dedicated to unnamed Filipino men and women who fought for the country’s freedom against the Spanish colonial rule. A two-story function facility and comfort rooms have also been erected in the garden.

Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. commended the agency’s move on Monday, saying that Rizal Park was becoming the country’s “prototype” for public park development.

“Because it is simpler, less cement and more plants,” said Jimenez, who attended the opening along with Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Intramuros Administrator Jose Capistrano Jr., Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority Chief Operating Officer Mark Lapid, among others.

Continuing efforts to make the park, where the historic Rizal Monument also stands, more attractive is important to help draw local and foreign tourists to the capital, according to Jimenez. For this year, the Department of Tourism is aiming to draw more than 5 million visitors from abroad.

“This is very rare for Asia, 54 hectares of a public park in the middle of the city. This is very important and we will continue to develop and redevelop it,” he said in a separate interview.

“This is also a very fitting move to mark the anniversary [of the agency] because of its efforts to make the park greener and friendlier with using less of the people’s money,” he added.

Early last year, the agency converted the park’s lampposts from the traditional lighting system to LED to make the park brighter at night while easing the impact of skyrocketing electric bills on the park’s meager coffers.

It also installed close circuit television cameras around the park to boost park-goers’ security.

The NPDC was founded in 1963 to oversee national parks in the country. It is currently managing Rizal Park and Paco Park in Manila and Pook ni Mariang Makiling Park in Laguna.

Sam Miguel
01-15-2013, 10:35 AM
Major int’l publications agree Philippines is ‘hottest’ destination

1:55 am | Sunday, January 13th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines is at it again.

After the successful “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” tourism campaign, which observes its first anniversary on Saturday, two more respected international publications have included the country on their list of the top destinations in the world for 2013.

New York-based Travel+Leisure Magazine, the rival of Condé Nast Traveler, named the Philippines as one of the 13 “Hottest Travel Destinations of 2013” in its January issue.

On Friday, The New York Times also placed the country at number 17 on its list of “46 Places to Go in 2013,” ahead of Bangkok, Paris and Casablanca.

“A surfing and beach destination goes luxe … Idyllic white sand beaches, secluded, little-known surf towns and pristine reefs are among the natural draws of this country made up of over 7,000 tropical islands,” The New York Times said.

“Now in addition to the more upscale choices cropping up in former backpacking enclaves like Boracay, there is a new generation of luxury hotels opening even further afield,” it added.

The paper noted the new Dedon Island resort on Siargao, adding that it was “close to one of the world’s best surf breaks, Cloud 9, (of which famous American surfer Kelly Slater is a fan), and has an outdoor cinema along with spa and paddle board classes.”

“And the private island resort of El Nido Pangulasian opens this month in the Unesco biosphere of Palawan, right by some of the world’s most pristine diving spots,” it added.

The New York Times said that while the Philippines has been subject to travel advisories in the past, “they mostly focus on Mindanao in the south.”

“For extra security, outfitters like Asian expert Remote Lands organize private transfers and local guides,” the paper said.

Travel+Leisure Magazine, which has 4.8 million readers, noted that while there were safety concerns before about the Philippines, it was now “safe to visit once again.”

“Two countries written off in recent years—Zambia and the Philippines—are safe to visit once again, and thriving with new safari camps and island thatched-roof villas,” Travel+Leisure said.

“The archipelago of Palawan, a Unesco biosphere reserve in the Philippines, just added a resort with a scuba center; hop a two-hour flight from Hong Kong, and you’ll soon be diving with the sea turtles,” it added.

The magazine particularly mentioned El Nido Pangulasian Island and the 125-acre private island of Ariara in Palawan, and the Eskaya Beach Resort and Spa in Panglao, Bohol.

“Boracay hogs the spotlight, but there are thousands of other islands to lure beach lovers,” Travel+Leisure added.

Serious player

Tourism Assistant Secretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said endorsement from these top publications showed that the Philippines was now “a serious player” in global tourism.

“This is a very good development for our country. It is a very concrete proof that foreigners now have a high awareness and appreciation of the great travel potentials of the Philippines,” Bengzon said.

“It shows that we are now a serious player,” he added.

Bengzon said the awareness of foreigners about the country was heightened by the launching of the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign in January last year.

“We’ve advertised and conducted our marketing campaign in all our major markets like Asia-Pacific, North America, Europe, India, Korea and China. And in 2013, we will be even more aggressive,” he said.

Bengzon said the Department of Tourism (DOT) expected the number of tourist arrivals for 2012 to reach 4.2 million to 4.3 million.

This is higher than the 3.9 million registered in 2011 but is lower than the 4.5-million target that the DOT set in 2012.

“There was a slowdown from our Chinese market but this is against picking. For 2013, we are targeting 5.5 million and we are very positive that we can reach that,” Bengzon said.

Very positive

“The feedback to [the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines”] campaign has been very positive not just in terms of tourist arrivals but also in the response of the private sector, from the airlines, travel agents, the hotels and resorts. More hotels are opening this year,” he added.

The other places that made it to Travel+Leisure’s list were Bahia Ballena in Costa Rica, Basilicata in Italy, Puerto Rico, Minneapolis in the United States, Reunion, Nepal, Charlevoix in Quebec, Uco Valley in Argentina, Zambia, Amsterdam, Australia’s Gold Coast, and Marseilles.

The magazine said it initially considered “40-odd places” for its list of top destinations this year.

“To determine which destinations … are coming up on the radar, T+L asked safari experts and art dealers, cutting-edge chefs and even branding agencies where they’re seeing a new neighborhood emerge or wineries getting more acclaim,” Travel+Leisure said.

“What started with 40-odd places we distilled down to a baker’s dozen: the hottest travel destinations of 2013,” it added.

World’s 5th Best Hotel

In the same issue, the magazine also named the Discovery Shores Hotel in Boracay as the 5th Best Hotel in the World.

“Barefoot elegance is undoubtedly the vibe on this tiny island, where the 2 1/2-mile stretch known as White Beach is often singled out for being the softest in the world,” the magazine said.

It said that Discovery Shores’ 88 spacious suites all have large glass walls that look toward a scenic rock garden, “but chances are you’ll spend more time by the water.”

“Take a dip in the infinity pool, or jet-ski on the crystalline sea. For people-watching, head to The Sandbar, where they stir up delicious mojitos, infused with local flavors like lychee and mango,” Travel+Leisure said.

“Once you’re sufficiently refueled, karaoke your heart out, with over 1,000 songs (mostly in English) to choose from at the resort’s recreation lounge,” it added.

The endorsement from Travel+Leisure came as the UK edition of its competitor, Condé Nast Traveller Magazine, also named the Philippines as one of the top 10 hottest new travel destinations for 2013.

“For travelers willing to go the extra thousand miles for a deserted beach, the Philippines has around 7,000 of the most heavenly islands in the world. It’s still not the most obvious beach-holiday destination, but it soon will be,” Condé Nast Traveller said.

Sorry, Maldives

“Sorry, Maldives… We love you, but we’ve got a new flame,” it added.

The magazine said the Philippines was becoming particularly popular among serious divers, who visit for “the incredible underwater life, unspoilt coral gardens with rainbow-bright fish, green sea turtles and dugongs.”

“In Bicol you can swim with the biggest fish in the world, the whale shark. While fish-fans of a different nature can go deep-sea fishing in one of the deepest trenches in the oceans, not far from the little-known island of Siargao,” the magazine said.

“The archipelago of Palawan ticks all the boxes: palm-fringed white-powder beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, natural lagoons for wild swimming on Miniloc Island—all of it protected by Unesco,” it added.

Condé Nast said Bacuit Bay in Palawan was something like Halong Bay in Vietnam, “only without all the tourists—for the time being, at least.”

“There are just a handful of resorts, which are tasteful and deliberately low-key. Two of the newest are Ariara Island and El Nido Pangulasian Island, a private-island resort with palm-thatched villas, a spa, its own dive center and sea views to melt the heart,” the magazine said.

Palawan in top 10

“Another super-stylish new opening is Dedon Island, on Siargao; it’s owned and designed by contemporary furniture brand Dedon. And a perennial favorite is Amanpulo, yet another high-design private-island hotel on Pamalican Island,” it added.

In October, Lonely Planet, reputedly the largest travel guidebook and digital media publisher in the world, also named Palawan among the top 10 best regions to visit in the world for 2013.

Lonely Planet said Palawan was “the ultimate archipelago for adventurers” and best for being “off the beaten track,” adventure and culture.

“Palawan incorporates thousands of sparkling, rugged islands and is fringed by 2000 km of pristine coastline. So far, Palawan’s natural marvels have only been sampled by plucky backpackers. Not for much longer,” Lonely Planet said.

“The trail these pioneers have blazed is set to explode, with regional airlines waking up to Palawan’s potential and clambering to schedule direct flights to the capital,” it said.

“Throw in the mushrooming growth of style-conscious boutique hotels normally found in places like Ko Samui or Bali, and you can feel that Palawan is ready to hit the big-time in 2013,” Lonely Planet added.

Sam Miguel
01-15-2013, 11:04 AM
Reality check to be in world’s must-see list

BIZLINKS

By Rey Gamboa

(The Philippine Star) | Updated January 15, 2013 - 12:00am

This decade, with a little more patience, we may be seeing the turning point to a truly vibrant Philippine tourism industry. Last year, tourist arrivals remained strong, even surpassing targets, with incoming visitors expected to exceed 4.5 million.

Now that’s a big thing considering that a while back, the government had been campaigning for its one millionth tourist, a goal that seemed so pathetic seeing how much our neighboring countries’ foreign visitor targets were.

This year, the Department of Tourism is setting its sight for a million more arrivals, and with the esteemed Conde Nast Traveller magazine putting out a confession of having a love affair with our beaches and culture, we may well surpass the 2013 target once more.

This is all happening despite the persistence of problems that many international tourism associations have identified as preempting many more potential visitor arrivals.

Direct access

So far, it seems that tourists who are bent on having a good time in the Philippines are still willing to put up with the tedious airport transfers and boat or banca fares to well-known destinations like Boracay, Panglao Island in Bohol, El Nido in Palawan, and Siargao in Surigao del Norte.

But this is not ideal if tourism targets will rise to over 10 million within the decade. This simply means that more airports will have to be built in the high-traffic destinations, and corollary to this, having agreements with more airlines for direct flights.

This problem has been echoed time and again by travel agencies, and it’s high time that we seriously listen to this. The continuing campaign by the tourism department that it’s more fun in the Philippines may very well turn out to be an embarrassment if we’ll see queues of foreigners waiting at airports or piers to get to their destinations.

Just like for most planned infrastructure projects in the Philippines, private investment will play a key role. Upgrading our secondary airports will require massive funds that the government should studiously look for from credible investors.

Marketing tourism on the ground

Ideally, when a tourist arrives in the Philippines, he should be able to get an official flyer or brochure about his destination at the airport. This will be able to tell him how to get to where he wants to go, and what to expect. And he should return from his trip with a happy, relaxed, and satisfied expression.

To do this, our tourism department should invest in marketing tools. We’re talking here of tourist information materials, signs, kiosks, and a system that will ensure that anyone who needs help to get from one destination to another will easily find what he wants.

At the tourism destinations, investment will be needed for good hotels, hostels, bed and breakfast facilities, and even beach cabanas or tents. There is a need also for more professional domestic tour operators as well as transport services.

While many of these amenities can be funded by businessmen without any government guarantees, marketing and advertising tools – including the “It’s more fun in the Philippines” campaign – requires investment by the National Government.

For the tourism department, this means presenting a justification for substantial funding from the national coffers over a period of five to 10 years, which should be “earned back” when more tourists start to come in. One of the problems identified in the country’s tourism program is the low level of budget support.

Hidden costs

While there will be fees generated directly by the government through taxation and other earnings, it should never be discriminatory or arbitrary. The tourism department must sort out these many unresolved issues regarding taxation and fees slapped on hotels, airlines, tour operators, and even tourists.

It’s a good thing that airport taxes are now slowly being included in the airline charges, thereby eliminating the need for domestic and foreign travelers to line up in specifically designated counters at our international airports. It should not be difficult therefore to implement this in domestic airports.

Tourists want to enjoy their holiday travel, and will not be entirely pleased at being billed at every turn by totally unexpected charges. This means that tourism-related fees at the local government level must be transparent.

Competent work force

It’s not enough that Filipinos are friendly and unabashed about speaking in broken English or even belting out phrases of languages they have learned from foreign visitors.

Now that the country is on the cusp of being a star in the Southeast Asian tourism belt, it must put up a more professional look that starts with having a credible human resource army for the tourism industry.

The tourism work force must be competent and well-motivated to assist foreign visitors in pursuing whatever type of pleasure they have come to the Philippines for. While we have a growing number of tourism-related courses, many are still geared for employment in other countries.

Apprenticeship is regarded as one of the solutions to transferring knowledge and skills to entry-level workers in the tourism industry. But this must be done with strict supervision by the tourism department to ensure quality and uniform services.

Security concerns

Lastly, to break away from the specter of terrorism, crime and hooliganism that has punctuated our tourism efforts in the past, the government needs to show a more visible security force that is able to protect tourists from unsafe acts.

This means stronger ties also with local governments, especially in the areas where tourists will be going to and passing through. Only when we can provide our foreign visitors with an assurance that they can return to their homes in one piece and still breathing can we really realize our aspiration to become a must-see destination in the world.

Being a victim of crime or violence is not fun at all for any tourist.

Sam Miguel
01-17-2013, 09:47 AM
One-man ban

By Conrado R. Banal III

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:14 pm | Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Aha! Finally the top honcho at the Department of Transportation and Communications, Secretary Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya, publicly defends a remarkable creation of his boys.

The DOTC bright invention is the rule banning any group that has interest in any air transport business from any bidding for any airport project in this country. The DOTC “ban” only blocks, automatically, the biggest conglomerate in the country today, the San Miguel group, from bidding for the new terminal at the Cebu international airport. San Miguel last year announced it would bid for the project, along with the Ayala-Aboitiz consortium and the Metro Pacific group.

It so happens that only a few months ago, San Miguel closed a deal with the Lucio Tan group for San Miguel to inject $500 million into the floundering PAL for a 49-percent interest in, and management of, the national flag carrier.

And so in a recent press briefing, as Abaya tries to justify the “ban,” he says that the DOTC only wants to be careful in the Cebu project in watching out against “conflict of interest.” That was it—no further explanation. This is a P10-billion venture, which will set the tone for other multibillion-peso airport projects all over the country. The DOTC only wants to be “careful.” Abaya of course did not say that, in effect, the DOTC “ban” instantly eliminated the competition, none other than San Miguel.

It does not matter that San Miguel, as the biggest conglomerate in the country, also happens to be quite loaded with cash that it plans to invest heavily in infrastructure such as airports and toll ways. That is perhaps the reason that, inside the DOTC, during the heated debate on the “ban,” the technical career guys vehemently objected to it, pointing out that it would seem to target San Miguel alone.

From what I gathered, two high officials at the DOTC also pushed for the “ban,” namely Rene Limcaoco (undersecretary for planning) and his subordinate, assistant planning secretary Jaime Raphael Feliciano, who were both political appointees of our leader Benigno Simeon (aka BS).

From what I heard, the “ban” was only inserted into the bidding rules, which were already done in prior consultation with other government offices, when from out of nowhere Limcaoco and Feliciano suddenly pushed for it. (By the way, another guy with the surname Limcaoco, i.e. Jose Teodoro Limcaoco, is the president of BPI Family Savings Bank. I wonder how the Limcaoco in BPI Family and the Limcaoco in DOTC are related.)

Anyway, when the “ban” was still under deliberation within the DOTC, the incredible boys of our leader BS did not bother to get inputs from other government offices such as the Department of Justice regarding the legality of their clever idea. Nor was the private sector, particularly the airline companies, ever part of it all—even considering that the Cebu project is one good measure in our leader BS’s banner program, the PPP, in which the government intends to tap private companies to fund our enormous infrastructure needs.

Still, the DOTC boss himself comes out defending the “ban,” sounding like he is all for it, although he seems to be doing all the defending rather weakly. Look, the DOTC wants to be…well, “careful.”

Really, if being “careful” is what the DOTC only cares about, I wonder why the DOTC never even bothered to consult other government offices, particularly the Neda and the DOJ, regarding the controversial “ban” since it obviously targeted one and only company that happens to be the biggest cash-loaded conglomerate in the country today.

Besides, the DOTC seems to set aside the fact that airport operation is a highly regulated business. And so is the airline industry, for that matter. Do I take it that, by being “careful,” the DOTC does not trust the government to do its job in preventing airline companies and airport operators from doing any foolishness?

I mean, really now, when airport operators and airline companies do wrong, the government is not exactly powerless to make them suffer for their foolhardy ways. Abaya’s feeble defense of the DOTC-imposed “ban” implies that the DOTC is really the one government body that initiated it. It was not. My information is that some other group actually proposed it.

From what I heard, this little-known government office called the PPP Center got a little whisper from one of the proponents to push for the disqualification rule in the Cebu project bidding. Word went around business circles that the proponent actually approached the head of the PPP Center, Cosette Canilao.

Here is another info: On the sidelines of the recent press briefing, Abaya nevertheless intimates that the idea of the “ban” really came from outside the DOTC. What do you think—perhaps some other bidders are afraid that San Miguel is really capable of coming up with the best bid for the Cebu project? If that is the case, the eventual winner can only be the second-best. In short, we do not get the best deal. Again.

MrM
01-22-2013, 05:09 PM
^ Hindi ba justifiable naman yung ban?

I don't get this guy's beef with the ruling. He actually sounds more like a defender of the SMC group than really looking out for healthy competition. Notice how not once in his entire rant does he mention the Gokongwei group, which has also been effectively banned by the new rule. Cash rich din naman ang Gokongwei group ah (and a lot less loaded with debt than the SMC group, making the former financially healthier). Why not stand up for them too?

Then again, I've always considered Conrad Banal as a paid hack. Just ask those who pushed for stopping aerial spraying over Mindanao banana plantations some 3-5 years ago.

Sam Miguel
01-23-2013, 08:40 AM
It’s more romantic in PH, ask China

By Tarra Quismundo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:45 am | Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

It’s more romantic in the Philippines. Just ask China.

Despite the still unresolved dispute over territories in the West Philippine Sea, China seems to be getting chummy with the Philippines on the tourism front. Romance is in the air.

The Philippines was named the Most Romantic Destination in a consumer poll of Shanghai Morning Post, a daily circulated in one of China’s most densely populated cities, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.

In a statement, the DFA said Consul General Charles Jose received the commendation from Liu Sha, the newspaper’s editor in chief, in ceremonies at the upscale Shanghai Peninsula Hotel on Jan. 15.

The recognition came just as the Department of Tourism (DOT) launched its romance-pegged advertisement titled “Lovers,” a spin-off from the popular “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign, featuring Boracay Island in Aklan province.

Other country winners during the Shanghai awards include Australia for Best Tour Destination for Discovery, Switzerland as Best Shopping Paradise, Korea as Best Skiing Destination and Germany as Best Destination for Art Appreciation.

A week ago, the Philippines was also named one of the world’s top tourist destinations by Oriental Morning Post, a Chinese financial newspaper.

Best tourist destination

Jose also received the Best Tourist Destination award on behalf of the Philippines at the World Travel-Special Trips Awards held in Shanghai, where top media and travel trade personalities gathered.

The Philippines won the award along with Ireland, Finland, Korea, Singapore and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, also based on a consumer survey conducted by the newspaper.

The awards give the Philippines renewed hope in raising Chinese tourist arrivals following a decline in 2012. The DOT has said total arrivals from China is expected to be below 200,000, far from the target of 450,000.

In 2011, nearly 250,000 Chinese tourists visited the Philippines.

The decline is mainly attributed to the country’s new procedure where Philippine visas for Chinese applicants are not stamped on their passports and instead stamped on separate forms.

More flights to China

The DFA implemented this procedure in December in protest of China’s release of new e-passports bearing a map that included disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea within China’s sovereign territory.

The DFA is expecting more Chinese tourists to travel to the Philippines during the winter season in China and the Chinese New Year in February.

“Several Philippine carriers have relaunched their flight services from China to the Philippines to cater to the growing demand of Chinese travelers for short-haul beach holidays,” said the DFA.

In November last year, Airphil Express resumed charters between Shanghai and Kalibo, the gateway to the world-renowned beaches of Boracay. Zest Air also increased the number of flights between Shanghai and Manila last month.

Manila is also directly accessible via flights from Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, Jinjiang and Guangzhou.

Sam Miguel
01-23-2013, 08:42 AM
^ Hindi ba justifiable naman yung ban?

I don't get this guy's beef with the ruling. He actually sounds more like a defender of the SMC group than really looking out for healthy competition. Notice how not once in his entire rant does he mention the Gokongwei group, which has also been effectively banned by the new rule. Cash rich din naman ang Gokongwei group ah (and a lot less loaded with debt than the SMC group, making the former financially healthier). Why not stand up for them too?

Then again, I've always considered Conrad Banal as a paid hack. Just ask those who pushed for stopping aerial spraying over Mindanao banana plantations some 3-5 years ago.

Conrad Banal should also have included a comparison of the three prospective bids and bidders. But then again, why include the other guys for free when only one of them seems to be passing envelopes to his desk.

Sam Miguel
01-31-2013, 08:04 AM
DOTC relents on Mactan airport bidding

Revised rule may allow firms with stakes in airlines

By Paolo G. Montecillo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:00 am | Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is expected to relax the restriction on companies with stakes in airlines from bidding for the Mactan-Cebu international airport project.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the DOTC’s bids and awards committee (BAC) would release on Friday updated terms of reference (TOR) for the airport contract.

“The BAC will meet and make the announcement and publication on Friday,” Abaya said when asked about the new TOR.

Earlier in the week, Abaya said the DOTC was studying the possibility of allowing companies with airline interests to participate as a minority in the P16-billion project.

The expected revisions followed appeals by San Miguel Corp. and JG Summit Holdings, two of the country’s biggest conglomerates, against the ban on groups with stakes in airlines from bidding for the project.

San Miguel Corp. owns a significant stake in and manages flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) and sister firm AirPhil Express. JG Summit, on the other hand, owns Cebu Air Inc., operator of Cebu Pacific.

Apart from controlling PAL, San Miguel, through unit TransAire Development Holdings Corp., operates the Godofredo P. Ramos airport in Caticlan, the country’s gateway to tourist hotspot Boracay Island.

“Any entity providing air transport services in the Philippines, be they domestic or international, for the duration of the concession period, cannot be the facility operator; cannot have any interest, direct or indirect, in the project or the facility operator; or cannot be owned by the project SPC or the facility operator,” the original TOR read.

In previous interviews, DOTC’s Abaya said the exclusion of groups with stakes in airlines was aimed at minimizing all possible conflicts of interest that might arise from the situation of having a company providing services to its rivals.

“An airline/airport operator can make availability of slots, gates, counters, lounges and baggage handling more difficult for their competitors,” Abaya had said.

The existing Mactan-Cebu International Airport is the country’s second-biggest air passenger facility. In 2011, the airport handled more than 4.74 million domestic passengers and 1.47 million international travelers.

Passenger numbers grew at the facility at a compounded annual rate of 14.47 percent for domestic traffic and 11.02 percent for international traffic over the last five years.

Manuel V. Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and the Ayala Corp., in partnership with Cebu’s Aboitiz family, have expressed interest in the Mactan-Cebu airport project.

Sam Miguel
02-19-2013, 11:25 AM
Our airports and planes MIGHT suck, but you can count on our people!

Honest Naia workers cited: ‘My God, you people are amazing!’

By Jerome Aning

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:57 pm | Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

“They are angels in our midst.”

This was how Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Jose Angel Honrado described four airport workers who returned money and other valuables left behind by passengers at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).

“This February alone, we have multiple recoveries reported to us. This is truly heartwarming. We are very happy that the culture of honesty is very much alive at Naia. These ‘angels’ are our source of pride,” Honrado told reporters on Tuesday.

In the latest incident that took place on Feb. 8 at Naia Terminal 3, Rodileen de la Vega, a building attendant, found a black wallet on top of the utility shelf inside one of the toilet cubicles.

She called her work partner, Mina Ilagan, and asked her to call for another witness. Together, they brought the wallet to the Airport Police Department (APD) outpost for proper turnover and to check the owner, who was later identified as Maksim Pantaleev.

The wallet, which contained peso and US dollar bills with a total value of around P60,000, was later claimed by Pantaleev.

Three more recoveries were reported to the Miaa earlier this month.

On Feb. 2, Ronnie Oquendo, a member of the Miaa job order personnel, found a black pouch containing P96,000 in cash that was left behind by the then Bacolod City-bound Lucebar Tajan inside a toilet also at Terminal 3. Oquendo turned over the pouch to the APD’s lost-and-found section.

Tajan was contacted thanks to an identification card belonging to his wife Arsenia, which was also found in the pouch. The couple were already in Bacolod when reached by Naia officials.

Tajan flew back to Manila the following day to get the pouch, and gave Oqueno a token of the couple’s gratitude.

“We are going to use the money for the treatment of our child who is sick. We commend Mr. Oquendo for his honesty,” Tajan later told reporters.

On Feb. 6, Mark Joven Aquino, a service crew member of Little Vin Vin cafeteria at Terminal 2, found a brown leather vest on one of the seats of the restaurant, with one of the pockets containing some P66,000 in cash. The vest and the money were returned to the owner that same day.

On Feb. 7, Richard Baybayon, a messenger-janitor of the Bank of Commerce branch at Terminal 1, found a brown clutch bag on top of the bank counter. The bag contained cash in different currencies, two silver bracelets, a digital camera, a mobile phone and a British passport belonging to Alan Bernard Stephens.

Stephens, a 59-year-old banker then on vacation in the country, realized he had lost his bag when was already in a cab going to his hotel.

The tourist went back to Naia with little hope of getting his bag back—and was surprised to find it in the lost-and-found section.

“My God, you people are really amazing! For that amount I knew that the finders would think twice about returning it, but you airport people are wonderful. Thank you very much,” an APD staff member quoted the Briton as saying.

Honrado said he would gather the honest airport employees in the monthly flag ceremony next month to formally honor them. Airport employees who had received praise for similar deeds in the past were given plaques of appreciation and bonuses.

Sam Miguel
03-01-2013, 09:45 AM
DOTC readies final report on number of airports issue

By Lawrence Agcaoili

(The Philippine Star) | Updated March 1, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is set to finally make a recommendation to Malacanang whether the country would adopt a single or twin airport system to address the congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said in a radio interview that the government understands the importance of an international gateway infrastructure

“An international airport is an important infrastructure so we need to make a policy on whether to adopt a single or twin airport system,” Abaya stressed.

He pointed out that the agency is set to make a recommendation to President Aquino for approval soon.

He refused to elaborate but pointed out that the Clark International Airport is the country’s fastest growing airport with eight budget airlines handling 1.3 million passengers last year.

Earlier, Clark International Airport Corp. president and chief executive officer Victor Jose Luciano pushed for a twin airport system that would allow the joint development of the international gateway in Pampanga and NAIA to benefit the travelling public and boost the government’s campaign to attract 10 million tourists by 2016.

Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 “We support the development of a twin-airport system that is the overall development of both Clark airport and NAIA. Both airports will have a symbiotic relationship that will be beneficial to the travelling public,” Luciano stressed.

He pointed out that CIAC is set to submit on March 4 a list of projects including the construction of the gateway terminal, a P6-billion budget terminal, navigational equipment, among others to the DOTC for approval.

According to him, the updated list including costs of the projects submitted by other attached agencies of DOTC would also be consolidated and submitted to National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for processing.

Luciano brushed aside the claims made by the former president of Clark Investors and Locators Association (CILA) that “businesses in the former US military facility suffered due to the indecision of the government over the fate of Clark airport.”

Former CILA president Jeff Pradhan claimed that locators inside the Clark Freeport and special economic zone are urging the Aquino administration to decide with finality whether the Clark international airport would serve as an alternate gateway in the Philippines.

Pradhan said businesses inside the former US military naval base have suffered due to the indecision of the government over the fate of the international airport in Pampanga.

“It comes down to lost opportunities. They want to see further improvement by the government rather than constant changing of minds,” he added.

For his part, Clark International Airport Corp. adviser Capt. Benjamin Solis told reporters earlier that the government should act quickly on the development of the Clark international airport as the NAIA is already 40 percent over the capacity of its terminals and runway.

“They have not made up their minds and that is the problem,” Solis stressed.

Solis, former general manager of UPS-Delbros, pointed out that the development of the Clark international airport as an alternative gateway to NAIA would be cheaper compared to putting up a new airport or putting up a high-speed railway.

danny
03-02-2013, 04:28 AM
In fairness, mas basura naman ang La Guardia sa New York at ang Los Angeles Airport (LAX) kesa sa bagong terminal sa NAIA. Ang La Guardia parang ang baho baho. Kasing baho ng New York Subway kapag summer. hehehe.

At mas maganda at bongga ngayon ang huling eroplanong nasakyan ko ng PAL kesa sa mga mababahong eroplano sa America. Just saying.



Our airports and planes MIGHT suck, but you can count on our people!

Honest Naia workers cited: ‘My God, you people are amazing!’

By Jerome Aning

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:57 pm | Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

“They are angels in our midst.”

This was how Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Jose Angel Honrado described four airport workers who returned money and other valuables left behind by passengers at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).

“This February alone, we have multiple recoveries reported to us. This is truly heartwarming. We are very happy that the culture of honesty is very much alive at Naia. These ‘angels’ are our source of pride,” Honrado told reporters on Tuesday.

In the latest incident that took place on Feb. 8 at Naia Terminal 3, Rodileen de la Vega, a building attendant, found a black wallet on top of the utility shelf inside one of the toilet cubicles.

She called her work partner, Mina Ilagan, and asked her to call for another witness. Together, they brought the wallet to the Airport Police Department (APD) outpost for proper turnover and to check the owner, who was later identified as Maksim Pantaleev.

The wallet, which contained peso and US dollar bills with a total value of around P60,000, was later claimed by Pantaleev.

Three more recoveries were reported to the Miaa earlier this month.

On Feb. 2, Ronnie Oquendo, a member of the Miaa job order personnel, found a black pouch containing P96,000 in cash that was left behind by the then Bacolod City-bound Lucebar Tajan inside a toilet also at Terminal 3. Oquendo turned over the pouch to the APD’s lost-and-found section.

Tajan was contacted thanks to an identification card belonging to his wife Arsenia, which was also found in the pouch. The couple were already in Bacolod when reached by Naia officials.

Tajan flew back to Manila the following day to get the pouch, and gave Oqueno a token of the couple’s gratitude.

“We are going to use the money for the treatment of our child who is sick. We commend Mr. Oquendo for his honesty,” Tajan later told reporters.

On Feb. 6, Mark Joven Aquino, a service crew member of Little Vin Vin cafeteria at Terminal 2, found a brown leather vest on one of the seats of the restaurant, with one of the pockets containing some P66,000 in cash. The vest and the money were returned to the owner that same day.

On Feb. 7, Richard Baybayon, a messenger-janitor of the Bank of Commerce branch at Terminal 1, found a brown clutch bag on top of the bank counter. The bag contained cash in different currencies, two silver bracelets, a digital camera, a mobile phone and a British passport belonging to Alan Bernard Stephens.

Stephens, a 59-year-old banker then on vacation in the country, realized he had lost his bag when was already in a cab going to his hotel.

The tourist went back to Naia with little hope of getting his bag back—and was surprised to find it in the lost-and-found section.

“My God, you people are really amazing! For that amount I knew that the finders would think twice about returning it, but you airport people are wonderful. Thank you very much,” an APD staff member quoted the Briton as saying.

Honrado said he would gather the honest airport employees in the monthly flag ceremony next month to formally honor them. Airport employees who had received praise for similar deeds in the past were given plaques of appreciation and bonuses.

Joescoundrel
03-05-2013, 10:20 AM
It’s official: Phl aviation gets ICAO nod

(The Philippine Star) | Updated March 5, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - It’s official: the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has lifted the Significant Safety Concerns (SSC) it issued on the Philippines five years ago.

The lifting of the SSC was made after the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) passed the safety audit conducted by the world’s aviation regulatory body last Feb. 18.

With this development, Malacañang is hopeful that local airlines may soon be allowed again to fly to Europe and expand operations in the United States.

The STAR had erroneously reported that the CAAP had failed to pass the review.

Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM) team was satisfied with the corrective actions taken by CAAP to comply with international safety standards.

“In a letter to the CAAP dated March 1, the ICAO stated that the validation committee has determined that the corrective actions taken by the Philippines have successfully addressed and resolved the SSCs identified by ICAO,” Valte said.

She said the CAAP would coordinate with the European Union and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) so the Philippines can get a status upgrade.

The US FAA slapped a Category 2 status on Philippine aviation due to its failure to comply with international safety standards.

The EU used ICAO’s findings as basis to ban Philippine carriers from flying to Europe.

The CAAP said it will now focus on regaining the FAA’s Category 1 rating.

“We hope that this formal lifting of the SSCs will finally put to rest the lingering doubts of those who may have been misled by false reports that CAAP has embarrassed President Aquino and the Philippine government by failing the ICAO audit anew,” CAAP director-general William Hotchkiss said.

“We are very thankful for the support given us by the President and Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya,” he said. – Rudy Santos, Aurea Calica

Joescoundrel
03-10-2013, 08:33 AM
T&T

Philippine Daily Inquirer

8:30 pm | Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Tourism represents the Philippines’ brightest hopes and its most formidable challenges. Despite the realities on the ground, the country was described in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013 as among “the rising stars in emerging market economies” in travel and tourism (T&T).

The Philippines jumped a stunning 12 places from 94th out of 140 countries in 2012 to 82nd in 2013. The WEF report cited “policy improvements supporting the industry,” which also landed the country in 16th place in the Southeast Asian region. “The government spending on the sector as a percentage of GDP (gross domestic product) is now first in the world and tourism marketing and branding campaigns are seen to be increasingly effective,” the report said.

There seems to be no stopping the Philippines as it takes its place among the world’s top travel destinations. This is as it should be, given its many beautiful sites and wonders (the rice terraces in the north, for only one example, and the excellent dive spots, for another), and despite the many problems that remain (the state of its international airports, the lack of infrastructure, the continuing crime situation, etc.). Indeed, the WEF report warned that the Philippines still had glaring needs to be addressed, including crucial areas like safety and security, inadequate hygiene, underdeveloped ground transport, among others—needs that “are holding back the potential of the country’s T&T competitiveness.”

But work is being done in these areas. The Department of Tourism’s “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign is making waves. Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez must be doing something really good, and/or word of mouth among pleased tourists is in high gear. Noteworthy is the fact that President Aquino has taken the crucial step of exempting foreign air carriers operating in the Philippines from “discriminatory” taxes.

He signed Republic Act No. 10374 last week in Davao City, removing the common carriers tax and gross Philippine billings imposed on foreign airlines—a move that is hoped to encourage these airlines to fly into the country, particularly those who had suspended direct service to Manila. “This will actually mean an initial loss in revenue for us but it is ultimately a strategic move. Airlines have long asked for this measure since it will bring in more traffic and facilitate connectivity among our countries,” Mr. Aquino said. “With this [law], everybody wins: from our aviation industries to our tourism industries, to the millions of our people who will have greater freedom in planning their trips.”

Every bit helps. After all, the President displayed supreme confidence in the tourism sector when he raised domestic tourism targets for 2016 to 56.1 million travelers from the original goal of 35.5 million. Meanwhile, DOT data show that foreign tourist traffic in the first half of 2012 was up 11.68 percent—2.14 million foreign visitors from 1.92 million in 2011. (But even with the rosy numbers, Jimenez said the country should not be overly aggressive because its tourism infrastructure is still a work in progress. “We are calibrating the demand [for hotel rooms and other tourism facilities] because we might bust the machine,” he said.)

The private sector is playing its part. San Miguel Corp. president Ramon Ang has proposed the building of a privately funded, four-runway international airport close to Makati City. “We believe that our proposal to build a world-class international airport closer to the National Capital Region complements the government’s infrastructure master plan,” he said.

We must continue to harp on the work still to be done by the Philippine government to deserve, maintain and even raise the exciting ratings, not least in the peace and order situation (the killing on Friday of a Frenchman in an early-morning robbery in Pasay City is reprehensible), and especially in the preservation and conservation of our tourist sites, to hold the monster of overdevelopment at bay (think Boracay).

The DOT and the national government have been pushing T&T as a revenue-earner. At the end of the day, more than anyone else, it is the people who should benefit from all these moves, perhaps in terms of jobs created and the culture and natural resources preserved.

Sam Miguel
03-11-2013, 09:09 AM
ICAO says PH now meets int’l aviation safety standards

By Paolo G. Montecillo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

7:04 pm | Saturday, March 9th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The International Civil Aviation Organization has officially taken the Philippines off its list of countries with unresolved Significant Safety Concerns (SSCs).

The Department of Transportation and Communications said the ICAO Council in a March 7 electronic bulletin said the country implemented corrective actions in accordance with the mechanism approved by the Council to resolve two SSCs – the issuance of air operator certificates and the aircraft registration process.

“And… as a result, these SSCs have been lifted,” the ICAO bulletin said.

The DOTC said the ICAO’s own public statement had major implications for the Philippine economy. “It not only strengthens our efforts to meet international safety standards for the aviation sector, it also boosts the government’s tourism goals,” the DOTC said in a statement.

The Department of Tourism has set a target of attracting 10 million foreign tourists to the Philippines by 2016—more than triple the three million tourists that came to the Philippines during the first year of President Aquino’s term in 2010.

The resolution to remove the country from ICAO’s list of countries with unresolved SSCs followed the exit briefing held between the ICAO’s Coordinated Validation Missions (ICVM) Team and officials of the CAAP and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) on February 202.

“The ICVM Team expressed great satisfaction with CAAP’s efforts to comply with international safety standards,” the DOTC said.

After the exit briefing, the ICAO ICVM team recommended to the ICAO Headquarters in Montreal, Canada, the lifting of the SSCs it previously raised with respect to the Philippines.

“This development provides more motivation for CAAP to continue on the long road toward achieving Category 1 status and lifting the European Union ban on Philippine flights,” added the DOTC.

An original 89 items were tagged as SSCs by the ICAO when the country first failed its audit. Other countries cited with deficiencies in the 2010 report were Angola, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Djibouti, Kazakhstan, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia.

The country’s successful passing of the audit is expected to result in the lifting of the European Union’s ban on Philippine carriers from entering European air space.

In 2007, the Philippines also failed an audit by the US Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA downgraded the country to “category 2″ status, preventing local airlines from expanding operations in the US.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya earlier said the FAA may conduct its own separate audit but also has the option of adopting the ICAO’s findings.

This could lead to an upgrade to Category 1 status, opening up the US market to local carriers. Currently, the only local carrier with flights to the US is Philippine Airlines.

Sam Miguel
03-12-2013, 08:26 AM
AirAsia, Zest sign ‘dream alliance’

Share-swap deal to give Malaysian firm 49% of Yao’s airline

By Paolo G. Montecillo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:04 pm | Monday, March 11th, 2013

The local unit of Malaysia’s AirAsia and Alfred Yao’s Zest Airways have joined forces in a “dream merger” that will take on bigger rivals that dominate the country’s air travel industry.

AirAsia Philippines and Zest Airways formally announced Monday a strategic alliance that would involve the integration of operations of both airlines. The two brands, however, will continue to operate as separate entities.

“This gives us the critical mass to build something special,” Malaysian businessman and AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes said in a speech following the announcement.

Under the strategic alliance, the two groups agreed to a share swap with AirAsia Philippines getting a 49-percent stake in Zest Airways. In exchange, Yao will get a 15-percent interest in AirAsia Philippines.

Yao’s stake will come from AirAsia Philippines’ existing Filipino shareholders, namely, the company’s CEO Marianne Hontiveros, vice chair Michael Romero and chair Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco. Each of the original shareholders will give up 5 percent of their current 20 percent to Yao.

Once the transaction has been completed, all four Filipino shareholders will own 15 percent of AirAsia Philippines, while the remaining 40 percent will stay with Malaysia’s AirAsia Berhad.

Sam Miguel
03-18-2013, 09:49 AM
From Inquirer online - - -

Dedon Island: Back to the land that time forgot

2:37 am | Saturday, March 16th, 2013

Dedon Island Resort in Siargao, Surigao del Norte, is all about the essence of travel. It’s all about spontaneity, childlike openness to new experiences, and bringing home happy memories.

“You come on a holiday and see things you’ve never learned as opposed to same old, same old … You come here and learn something new, you go away and reminisce that you learned to do this when you were staying at Dedon,” says Sean Hartley, the adventure manager.

This new beach getaway in the southeastern border of Siargao is formerly the Pansukian Resort, owned by French businessman Nicolas Rambeau. Pioneer staffer and resort supervisor Erlinda

Escosura has been working in the property since the beginning.

Twenty years ago, Rambeau built a vacation cottage on the beach. Then he put up four more cottages to invite his friends. In no time the sprawl evolved into a nine-villa resort.

The villas stood out for their swooping, multitiered thatch roof lines associated with Thai and Balinese architecture. Rambeau himself trained the local folk to deliver refined service.

Although it was under the radar, the resort attracted upscale clients such as the Zobels, the Aboitizes, the Lopezes, even former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and well-heeled foreigners.

Mystical

Bobby Dekeyser, the German founder and chairman of Dedon (accent on the first syllable), the global outdoor furniture company, would make a side trip from the factory in Cebu to Pansukian. Dedon’s CEO Hervé Lampert also came with his family to enjoy the mystical atmosphere of Siargao.

Rambeau rarely entertained the press. We were among the few whom he took to the nearby islands and the mangrove, regaled us with stimulating conversations, and read Baudelaire at night. We couldn’t forget watching the sea, looking at the infinite changes of patterns on the surface and shifts of color from cerulean to celadon.

Weary of running a resort, Rambeau put Pansukian resort on the market. Dekeyser grabbed the chance to acquire it. It took two years of full renovation and rebranding to turn it into Dedon Island.

The place was designed by French architect Daniel Pouzet, industrial designer Jean Marie Massaud and local counterpart Garrick Yu.

Cebuana decorator Maritess Lampert helped source the artisans and the soft furnishings. With some 350 styles from Dedon, the resort is a showcase of world-class Filipino craftsmanship.

Family feeling

“Bobby and I have been going to the resort for the past 10 years. That spot has something magical. It takes you away from thinking about the busy life. The waters are calm—there are no waves on that side. The colors of the sea keep changing every five minutes. We said the experience is important. It shouldn’t just be a bedroom and restaurant,” says Lampert.

“In other places, it feels too commercial,” he adds. “You go to a hotel with 50 to 100 rooms. Although they try to make you feel at home, at the end of the day, you pay for this and sign for that. We’ve created a place where you pay in advance. When you’re there, it’s your own. Jump on the beach, or take the amphibious boat. No need to swipe a credit card. All transactions are banished.”

The Dedon Island experience starts at the Cebu International Airport where Gen. Escaño, the liaison officer, takes care of your transfers.

In Siargao, the Dedon Mobile Lounge, a long jeepney done in minimalist style, awaits us. Inside, we are given cold towels infused with sampaguita essence, and dried mangoes, pineapples and shredded coconut, sweetened in their natural juices and baked in a dehydrator.

We are given a familial welcome at the entrance. A queue of foreign managers and the executive chef warmly greets us. Matthew and Morag Koerner, the general managers, specialize in running yachts and small exclusive resorts. Hartley organized safaris in Kenya, where he met Dekeyser.

Ivan Alvarez, the guest relations officer, was Dekeyser’s masseuse in Ibiza. Executive chef Nico Mordhorst is touted to be among Germany’s 10 best chefs. He came to the island with his significant other, Christina Hoetzl, the German food and beverage manager.

Bobby (Dekeyser) would travel with his wife, sister and brother-in-law. That’s why Dedon Island is about creating memories and new adventures with the family, explains Hartley.

“It’s also why Dedon is like a family—a group of like-minded people getting together. That’s the concept: Let us find like-minded people to come here.”

Matthew adds, “It’s not like going to a branded resort where you don’t get to meet the GMs. The staffers don’t know who people are because you’re just a room number.”

Fortune plants, red palms, bird’s nest ferns, tiger plants, bougainvilleas and hibiscus fringe the villas that sport trademark fingerlike gables.

The room has a tropical decor—Siargao-carved headboards depicting Dedon’s pagodas, abundant coconut trees and sea life.

The resort showcases Dedon furniture and accessories—from the loungers to the shower heads.

Lending the resort a sense of place are the coastal features such as the handwoven slippers, mat-woven tote bags, herbal soaps wrapped in banana leaf, and a seashell.

The Dedon style is about comfort and contentment, and embracing the genuine hospitality that comes with the island lifestyle. “The Dedon look is luxury in natural surroundings,” says Hartley.

No set menu

There is no set menu because the dishes are prepared depending on the fresh produce of the day. The chef can take as long as four hours scouring the island for the right ingredients for the day.

The resort also has an herb garden and organic vegetable farm. Its string beans are said to be tastier than those in the market.

For lunch we have mango and mandarin orange juice, whole wheat bread with hummus, fresh lettuce salad, fried rice, crispy mahi-mahi, chicken adobo with boiled egg.

Instead of drenching the chicken in soy sauce which tends to overpower the taste, the fowl is pan-fried separately and flavored before serving.

A waitress in clean white sarong brings our dessert of chocolate hazelnut ice cream and banana bread.

Dinners are plated like fine dining meals. The kinilaw is marinated in vinegar, calamansi and honey.

Instead of tossing the fish and the vegetables together, the prime ingredients are artfully composed.

The carabao meat is braised for eight hours and cut into bite-size pieces, breaded and fried to bring out the beef flavor.

The tofu steak and pork legs are served with colorful vegetable purées.

As the adventure manager, Hartley insists on taking guests out of their comfort zone. They learn to paddle-board or surf, explore the islands and visit Cloud 9—the surfing capital of the Philippines.

Visitors explore the various coves and inlets and are mesmerized by the sculptural coral formations, monkeys playing around and the variety of sea creatures. The water is so clear that you could actually see the bottom.

“It is taking you back to the land that time forgot—the undisturbed, natural beauty. Here, you can sit on the islands and see nobody. You hear the sea and listen to the birds,” says Hartley. “We’ve got the gadgets that follow us around. We can take you away from that, and bring you back to yourself. The rest of the world is going on, but it can go on without you.”

Sam Miguel
03-25-2013, 10:45 AM
DOTC gives up on big projects

DEMAND AND SUPPLY

By Boo Chanco

(The Philippine Star) | Updated March 25, 2013 - 12:00am

I reported in this column a week ago that DOTC is not likely to deliver a big ticket project it started under P-Noy’s watch before P-Noy bows out of office in June 30, 2016. But I still entertained a glimmer of hope that Sec. Jun Abaya will move heaven and earth to fine tune procedures, crack the whip and still meet the deadline.

I went through the list of DOTC projects with Sec. Jun during our two-hour meeting early this month, getting from him status of projects and expected completion dates. I saw right then and there that it would be difficult for P-Noy to inaugurate any of these major projects. But Sec. Jun gave the impression that he will die trying.

It seems Sec. Jun might as well be dead right now. His underlings at DOTC have spoken and they are the ones really running the show. DOTC Undersecretary Rene Limcaoco had the nerve to justify the delays saying they saved over P2 billion in 2012 after it reorganized the bids and awards process.

An informed source familiar with the DOTC remarked to me that Limcaoco failed to factor the economic cost of delays which he estimates to be P1 billion on LRT2 extension and P8 billion on LRT1extension, not counting the economic cost of inaction on NAIA and other airports, Northrail, license plates, etc.

DOTC Undersecretary Catherine Jennifer Gonzales, on the other hand, told reporters last week they can’t deliver any major projects for P-Noy, citing delays in pre-bid activities.

Here is how Usec Gonzales described their status:

The P17.5-billion Mactan Cebu International Airport Terminal Expansion Project is now delayed at the bidding stage.

Other airport projects will also not be inaugurated by P-Noy. Based on the DOTC timetable, the P4.3-billion Puerto Princesa Airport, P7.2-billion New Bohol (Panglao) International Airport, and the P1.1-billion Bicol International Airport can be completed in the third quarter of 2016. That’s beyond P-Noy’s term which only up to the end of the second quarter of 2016.

But even that delayed completion is up in the air. DOTC is only planning to bid out the preparatory work for the Panglao Airport project. The Bicol airport is tied up in legal knots.

The P9.76-billion Light Rail Transit Line 2 Masinag Extension in Antipolo is expected to be operational by 2015. The project would add a measly 4.2 kilometers to the existing 13.8-kilometer service.

But that promised completion date is iffy too. They are only now asking for bids for the design and bidding for the construction will follow a year later. They could have saved a year if they asked for a design and build contract instead, as was done for the LRT 1 extension from Balintawak to Trinoma.

Let us not even talk about MRT 3 because all those press releases about buying additional rail cars and buying out the original private sector owners are still up in the air. There are too many legal obstacles to have anything happen soon.

The Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), according to DOTC’s Gonzales, is scheduled to start operating by 2015. But don’t bank on it. Sec. Jun told me P-Noy wants proof of concept and they will do this in a stretch of Commonwealth Avenue. No date has been set to get this trial run going. Until then, the project is in limbo.

The Light Rail Transit Line 1 Cavite Extension Project seems dead on the tracks, a potential political tragedy for Sec. Abaya, a Cavite politician. DOTC is aiming for construction to begin by next year and operation by late 2016. Note, Usec Gonzales said aiming to start construction only. Completing it in late 2016 means they will fail to deliver within P-Noy’s term.

The completion date for LRT 1 extension was earlier set by DOTC in 2015. But they have pushed back the deadline for submission of pre-qualification documents twice. As I wrote in a previous column, DOTC is blaming the “inquisitive” bidders for the delays.

Citing the P60-billion Light Rail Transit Line Cavite extension project, DOTC Usec Gonzales told reporters the government was not responsible for the postponement in the bidding of the project. “We are receiving a lot of questions from the four bidders so we have to also respond to them all.”

Submission of the financial bids should have been done between January and February 2013, but was moved to May 27 this year. “We are targeting construction to begin by 2014 and operation to start by late 2016.” This LRT1 Cavite extension project was approved by NEDA March 2012.

Usec Gonzales cannot declare DOTC blameless for the delay that easily. The barrage of questions from bidders is because the bid documents were not clearly written or worse, confused. Incomplete data smacks of intellectual dishonesty on DOTC’s part.

I checked out the DOTC website and read the questions on the bidding parameters of the LRT 1 Cavite line extension. I can understand why the bidders want to be clarified.

For instance, bidders raised concerns on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as they feel they are being overly exposed to risk due to the stringent requirements set. DOTC proposed a long list of modifications to the KPI but it remains to be seen if these will be sufficient to satisfy the bidders.

There were issues about the automatic fare collection system. This is actually a separate DOTC project costing P1.7 billion to create a common ticketing system where only one electronic ticket is needed to ride on lines 1, 2 or 3.

This system will require new passenger gates where passengers put their tickets. Or the existing ones need to be modified. It is unclear how the separate bidding for this will proceed and how this will affect the LRT1 Cavite extension project.

There is also a new problem with the automatic fare collection system. A Korean group claims they should be awarded the project based on an unsolicited proposal they submitted last year. The Line 1 Cavite Concessionaires had been told this new fare collection system would be in-place before they need to use it but clearly this will not happen.

Then there is confusion over the number of stations to be provided. DOTC now states that 10, not eight are required.

DOTC is also confusing the issue of the Common Station further with a statement that they are still studying location for it and whether or not it will be constructed by DOTC or the Concessionaire. Delays in the implementation of the Common Station will affect the Japanese Loan for new vehicles as the Loan Agreement stipulates a timetable for both the Common Station operation and the arrival of new vehicles.

The LRTA Stimulus Contracts are mostly not awarded and there seems to be confusion how these will impact the Concession Agreement. Two packages were awarded, the rail replacement and the anchor bolt replacement contracts. These will be ongoing during the period of responsibility of the Concessionaire and most of the bidders have raised concerns.

Right of Way issues remain a very big concern. Piecemeal turnover of packages seems unacceptable to most bidders but DOTC insists this is a risk of the bidders but says they will “clarify” how such defects will be addressed in the Concession Agreement.

One query states: “In most LRT1 sub-stations (including the one of the depot), the power supply equipment is approximately 25 to 30 years old. Please clarify if there any plans or programs to upgrade or replace the power supply equipment (transformer, rectifier, etc.) prior to handover.”

DOTC replied “There are no such plans prior to handover. This should form part of the Concessionaires five-year plans”. The truth is LRTA had been looking at a replacement program for this equipment for some time but never followed through on it. Now they are passing this large capex to the Concessionaire.

There are many items marked “This matter is subject to further deliberation by the SBAC and a response to this query shall be provided in a separate Bid Bulletin” This may delay the bidding process further.

I got a headache reading the comments of bidders and the reply of DOTC. They will be lucky to get the project started soon and completed before the Sec.ond Coming. DOTC is a mess and has clearly failed P-Noy and his bosses.

Medical school exam

Artemio Tipon sent this one.

When I was young I wanted to go to a medical school, but I was confused by the entrance exam.

One of the questions was, “Rearrange the letters P N E S I to spell an important part of the human body that is more useful when erect.”

Those who spelled SPINE became doctors.

The rest ended up in Congress.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 08:26 AM
Churches to visit north of Manila

Inquirer Central Luzon, Inquirer Northern Luzon

3:37 am | Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Devout Catholics in the Philippines go on Visita Iglesia (Spanish for “church visits”) as penance.

Most visit seven churches on Holy Thursday after the evening Mass at the Lord’s supper and after the Holy Eucharist is brought to the “Altar of Repose” by the priest in a procession inside the church.

Holy Thursday is also called Maundy Thursday among non-Catholic denominations. “Maundy” comes from the Latin word, “mandatum” (command) and refers to the episode when Jesus Christ washed the feet of his disciples and commanded them to be good servants.

Holy Thursday is also the start of the three holiest days in Christendom, also called Paschal Triduum, which begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s supper. Paschal Triduum reaches its high point in the Easter vigil and closes with the evening prayer on Easter Sunday.

During the procession to transfer the Holy Eucharist to the Altar of Repose—a chapel prepared for reservation or a special tabernacle in the church—a eucharistic hymn is sung.

Bells are rung and people kneel in worship. Penitents beat their chests, saying “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa” (through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault).

Under a four-corner canopy hoisted by lay ministers, the priest walks with the ciborium carrying the hosts, covered with white cloth.

Jesus is hidden in the Altars of Repose all over the world until midnight of Thursday. The rite, called the “Transfer of the Blessed Sacrament,” is closely related to the liturgy of Good Friday. The main altar is not used and the tabernacle is empty because Christ is dead.

During Visita Iglesia, the faithful visit either the Altar of Repose or the Stations of the Cross in the church.

Pilgrims can travel to central and northern Luzon’s holiest shrines that offer illumination and some form of adventure.

Visitors can reflect as they visit churches that played major roles in shaping the history and spirituality of the people of central and northern Luzon.

Central Luzon

In Bulacan, pilgrims and travelers may make a first stop at the province’s oldest Roman Catholic church, Saint John the Baptist Church in Calumpit town.

Built in 1572, the church remains sturdy. The church is historic because it was where the venerated Talangpaz sisters, both blessed Filipino nuns and founders of the Congregation of Augustinian Recollect Sisters, were baptized.

Msgr. Andres Valera, vicar general of Malolos diocese, said the Vatican had recognized Dionisia Talangpaz and her sister, Cecilia Rosa, as “Servants of God.”

In Pampanga, the National Museum in 2011 declared Sta. Monica Parish Church in Minalin town a national cultural treasure, the 139th in the country and the second in the province after St. James the Apostle Parish in Betis, Guagua.

Built under the guidance of Augustinians, the Minalin church displays a façade similar to a “retablo” (multilevel niches for images of saints). It holds a 1619 mural that depicts the town’s landscape and keeps an antique La Consolacion painting.

In Bataan, Saint Dominic de Guzman Church in Abucay town, known as the oldest church in the province, is where the Spanish missionaries sowed the seed of Christianity in the province on June 10, 1588.

In Olongapo City, San Roque Chapel was built in 1932 to replace a dilapidated mission church set up by Spanish missionaries.

When the United States put up its naval base in the city, the chapel became the Naval Station Chapel, and is now located within the Subic Bay Freeport.

In Tarlac, the most visited and revered pilgrim site is Monasterio de Tarlac in the uplands of San Jose town, some 30 kilometers from Tarlac City.

Enshrined in the Church of the Risen Christ here is a relic of the True Cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified.

In Nueva Ecija, the Church of the Three Kings in Gapan City is one of the churches commonly visited by pilgrims not only for being the province’s oldest Catholic church but also for its history and Byzantine architecture. Gapan is 96 km north of Metro Manila.

The church is made of bricks, adobe and lime. Work began in 1740, but it took 16 years to finish it, using forced labor.

In Aurora, San Luis Obispo Parish Church, also known as the Baler Church, was built in 1611 under the supervision of Franciscan missionaries who came to Baler, now the provincial capital, in 1578, wrote Enrique Avanceña in the book, “Amistad Duradera (Enduring Friendship).”

A tsunami in 1735 destroyed the town and church. In its place was built a stone church where 50 Spanish soldiers and a Spanish priest took refuge for 337 days because of a siege by Filipino revolutionaries.

Northern Luzon

Leading the Visita Iglesia sites in the Ilocos region is Our Lady of the Rosary Church, more popularly known as the Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag, in Pangasinan.

People from other provinces gather at this shrine every Lenten season, but most Pangasinan residents trek on foot on the night of Maundy Thursday, to reach the church at dawn of Good Friday.

The church started as a modest chapel built by the Augustinians in 1600. The construction of the church, which began in 1882, was completed in 1912.

The church was venerated due to an apparition there of the Virgin Mary 400 years ago. An ivory image of the Virgin Mary, brought to the Philippines by Padre Juan de San Jacinto from Spain via Acapulco hundreds of years ago, was enthroned in the church in 1909.

On April 21, 1926, Our Lady of Manaoag was canonically crowned.

In La Union, families on pilgrimage can visit the Church of Our Lady of Namacpacan in Luna town.

Namacpacan was the name given by residents to the Virgin Mary who, according to folklore, appeared to indigenous peoples of the Cordillera as an old woman who offered them food and who convinced them to be baptized.

The Namacpacan church hosts the Virgin’s image which dates back to 1871. The image was ordered from Spain by an Augustinian priest assigned to one of the towns of Ilocos Sur.

In Ilocos Sur, a popular site for pilgrims is Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion Church in Sta. Maria town. It is one of the baroque churches of the Philippines listed in 1993 on the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Ilocos Norte’s most popular pilgrimage site is Badoc Church which is home to the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary (La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc) with the infant Jesus wrapped in her arms.

The Laoag diocese proclaimed the wooden image of La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc as the patroness of Ilocos Norte on May 2, 1980. Badoc Church was the pilgrimage site of the Great Jubilee Year 2000.

The wooden image, along with the image of the crucified Christ, Sto. Cristo Milagroso, has been venerated for its miracles.

Both images, enclosed in a wooden box, were found washed ashore in the 1620s on the beach of Dadalaquiten that borders Badoc town in Ilocos Norte and Sinait, Ilocos Sur.

Cagayan’s most famous pilgrimage site is Our Lady of Piat Shrine in Piat town, some 40 km from the capital Tuguegarao City.

The shrine was built by Spanish missionaries to pacify the Itawits or Itawes, the native settlers of western Cagayan, in 1604. It was elevated into a basilica minore in 1999.

Historical accounts also showed that the Lady of Piat saved Cagayanos from the 1624 drought.

Tourists and pilgrims have been visiting the shrine in Piat to seek the Lady’s help. The miracles attributed to Our Lady of Piat are recorded in the basilica’s stained glass windows.

In Isabela, an important site for pilgrims is Our Lady of Atocha Church in Alicia town, which has been included in the Department of Tourism’s religious tourist destinations in the country.

The church, made of bricks and features Spanish architecture, was built by Fr. Tomas Calderon and inaugurated in 1849.

Most pilgrimages still end up in Baguio, the summer capital, often at Baguio Cathedral (Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral), which was built in the 1920s.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 08:27 AM
^^^ (Cont'd )

Other churches

Aside from these 14 churches, pilgrims may also visit other historical churches in central and northern Luzon.

Among these are St. Joseph Cathedral in Balanga City, Bataan; and Malolos Basilica Minore (Malolos Cathedral), Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion Parish Church in Bulakan town, Saint Francis Parish Church in Meycauayan City and Angat Parish Church, all in Bulacan.

In northern Luzon, other important churches are the 406-year-old Bolinao Church, Calasiao Church established in 1596, Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Bugallon, all in Pangasinan; Basilica of Our Lady of Charity, which is a shrine to the Lady of Agoo or the Lady of Charity, in Agoo, La Union; and St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral or Vigan Cathedral in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.

In Ilocos Norte, some Ilocanos visit nine churches based on the nine-day rosary novena (which requires the devout to pray the rosary for nine consecutive days) while others visit 14 churches to represent the 14 Stations of the Cross.

Other famous Visita Iglesia sites in Ilocos Norte are St. William Cathedral and Carmelite Monastery Chapel (or Carmel Church) in Laoag City; the Catholic churches in the southern towns of Batac, San Nicolas and Paoay, a world heritage structure; other churches found in the eastern towns of Sarrat and Dingras; and Bacarra Church in the north.

Devout Catholics in Cagayan Valley also troop to Our Lady of the Visitation Church in Gamu and St. Matthias Church in Tumauini, both in Isabela; Transfiguration Chapel at Dariuk Hills in Santiago City; and Iguig Church in Cagayan, where concrete statues representing the Stations of the Cross are found in its compound.

The deeply religious Ivatans of the island province of Batanes and tourists spending their Lenten break there visit old Catholic churches spread on several islands.

Among these are Sto. Domingo de Basco Church (Basco Cathedral, built in 1783), San Vicente Church in Sabtang (built in 1844) and St. Joseph the Worker (San Jose) Church in Ivana (built in 1814). Reports from Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Anselmo Roque, Armand Galang, Greg Refraccion, Robert Gonzaga, Jo Martinez-Clemente and Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon; and Yolanda Sotelo, Cristina Arzadon, Gabriel Cardinoza, Leoncio Balbin Jr. and Villamor Visaya Jr., Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Inquirer Research

Sam Miguel
04-04-2013, 08:38 AM
Scuba divers name PH, Malaysia best destinations in Pacific, Indian Oceans

By Philip C. Tubeza

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:59 am | Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

As summer sizzles, the Philippines has been named the best diving destination in the Pacific and Indian Oceans together with Malaysia, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said on Tuesday.

A survey by Scuba Diving Magazine, through its website www.scubadiving.com, showed that scuba divers considered the Philippines and Malaysia the best diving destinations in this part of the world.

“The website is host to the most knowledgeable and honest community of real divers from all over the world on the Internet,” said Karen Chan, executive director of the DOT’s Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving.

Chan said the Philippines was also named the “second best” for shore diving, second for best macro photo, third best for marine life, fourth in healthiest marine environment and fifth for wreck diving.

“Likewise, we placed third as best destination overall for diving, topside, adventure, nightlife and others, also in the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions,” she said.

Chan also pointed out that Atlantis Beach Resort in Dumaguete City was named among the best dive resorts in the world.

“We have a lot of dive sites from Tubbataha; the whole island of Cebu from Malapascua in the north to Moalboal in the south; and of course, Anilao in Batangas,” she said.

“In fact, 15 percent of foreign tourists who arrive in the country come here for diving,” she added.

The Philippines still has 500 “mostly unexplored dive sites,” said Benedict Reyes, president of the Philippine Association on Underwater Activities and a board member of the Asian Underwater Federation.

“If developed, [these dive sites] may give the country the distinction of being Asia’s dive capital,” Reyes said.

‘Center of the center’

“In fact, the Philippines is already being regarded by many foreign divers as the ‘center of the center’ of diving in the world,” he added.

Reyes is the main proponent of the World Underwater Federation General Assembly, which will be held at Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa from April 17 to 23.

The assembly will gather around 150 federation leaders who are key movers in underwater activities throughout the world.

To take advantage of this gathering, the DOT is holding the country’s first international dive expo, also at Shangri-La Mactan from April 18 to 21.

Dubbed World DEEP (Dive Expo and Exhibition Philippines), the expo aims to make world-class diving destinations in the country known to the world.

One big dive site

“The Philippines is one big dive site,” Reyes said.

The DOT said World DEEP would also put in the limelight alternative underwater sports not yet booming in the country.

It said the expo would have seminars on fin swimming, underwater photography, underwater wrestling or aquathlon, and breath-hold diving, or apnoea diving.

MrM
04-19-2013, 10:37 AM
(Posting relevant portions of the article)

Myanmar has a brand new airport

DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 19, 2013 - 12:00am

Go ahead and cry and turn green with envy. And be mad as hell in frustration too. Myanmar, a country that was stuck in the past has been making fast and bold leaps into the future. And they started doing that while our leaders were busy playing politics or otherwise doing nothing more productive than shuffling papers and restudying long completed project studies.

A friend of mine from the old UP days just came from Myanmar, as part of a JICA team to help Myanmar formulate its national transport plan. Guess what? According to him, Myanmar “has built a new international airport in three years time, with a spanking new terminal building that puts our T3 to shame.”

Good Grief! In the three years this administration was busy restudying plans and getting DOTC lawyers to pretend they were engineers, Myanmar got going and has inaugurated a brand new airport they can’t even fully utilize. The new airport “was designed by Changi airport with a capacity to handle five million passengers per annum. Current traffic is only 40,000 passengers per year.”

According to my friend, a transport expert working on projects in Asean, “had Myanmar applied cost-benefit analysis, phasing and staging would have resulted in a more modest airport. But there it is, standing on a new capital that is 3x the size of MetroManila.”

I hope Mar and his gang of lawyers won’t say Myanmar succeeded in opening a brand new airport larger and better than our Terminal 3 because they had a military junta in control. If we had more decisive people in government, we would do even better because Pinoys excel everywhere except here.

Oh well… we endlessly debate, probably because of all those lawyers running or ruining our lives. If it isn’t the lawyers in a Supreme Court that killed our dreams of a petrochemical industry in the ’80s, it is the lawyers in the bureaucracy or Congress who make things difficult to happen. What we need are engineers who will put things together and make things run.

Here we are still debating whether it is Clark or NAIA when experts have been saying we can and indeed, should have both. Clark would be about a hundred kilometers away from our economic boom areas in Laguna or even Alabang... too far to be our main airport. And that fast train is a bad idea from the start and takes too long to put in place. The debate is preventing any serious development to happen at either airport.

My friend’s comment: “Ben and I (as another Filipino aviation expert, Ben Solis) agree that a multi-airport is justifiable for MetroManila. As you may recall, I called Sec. Abaya’s four options on airport as fallacy of the false alternatives.

“There is only one — which is Manila and Clark (at least for next five years) airports. But DOTC is still in dreamland, agonizing over imagined options, because that was what Mar Roxas told them to do. He is, for all intents and purposes, still calling the shots at DOTC and Abaya is merely a surrogate.”

This is horrible… a national disgrace. I was in Myanmar less than 10 years ago and I found their airport was worse than our Manila Domestic Terminal. A portion of it wasn’t even cemented. Many of our provincial airports looked better.

And now they have managed to open a modern terminal better than our T3, which we have been unable to fully operate for over 10 years now. Speaking of T3, they have not yet signed any agreement with the Japanese contractor Takenaka to complete and fix it. But Sec. Abaya is insisting it will be fully operational this December.

Our officials are in denial. They are misinforming P-Noy. My sources tell me Sec. Almendras called them to a meeting last week, and DOTC repeated their fairy tale that T3 will be completed. By the time reality emerges, it is already too late.

Remember the announcement of Mar Roxas that major renovation of T-1 will commence Jan. 15, 2012? Well, it is now April 2013 and no contract has been awarded because, sources tell me, the lawyers of DOTC said that it would be faster to negotiate without tender.

Myanmar is hosting the SEAGames this December and the Asean Summit next year — at their new capital Naypyidaw. Direct air links with Singapore’s Changi airport has also been established since the new airport opened in 2011.

It is obvious that DOTC has become totally dysfunctional and we have to be resigned to the fact that nothing much will happen between now and the end of P-Noy’s term. That is just so sad because a country like Myanmar is starting to overtake us in modern transport infrastructure.

Vietnam has overtaken us and Cambodia probably is just about to as well. We used to joke — a hyperbole — that Myanmar will overtake us too if we don’t do better faster. Now, we cannot joke about that. At the rate we are not going, that is starting to happen…

Sam Miguel
05-02-2013, 09:37 AM
An Escolta walking tour

11:25 pm | Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Remember Escolta? It is the street running parallel to the Pasig River that once was Manila’s premier commercial location.

Escolta is talked about in the past tense these days, but a primer published by a group called 98B brings out little-known or forgotten facts about the area with the hope of bringing it back to the Manileño consciousness.

First, about 98B: it is a multidisciplinary art “COLLABoratory” that connects artists, designers, musicians, curators, writers, students, and anyone else involved in the arts and culture sector.

The group provides a venue where anyone in the arts and culture sector can gather and talk, to present their work in different ways—through a talk, publication, sharing a meal, or organizing a bazaar.

The group organized a bazaar a few weekends ago at the Escolta. Its success strengthened 98B’s resolve to revive Escolta by working hand in hand with the Escolta Commercial Association Inc. (Ecai), the association of Escolta building-owners.

The reintroduction of Escolta in 98B’s primer begins with walking from Carriedo Fountain at the Plaza Sta. Cruz (nearest LRT1 station is Carriedo), from where you walk on the bridge across the narrow estero to enter Escolta.

Art Deco masterpieces

Stop at First United Building (first structure after the estero), and check out the Escolta Museum where images and building models of Escolta during its heyday are on display. 98B also has a gem of a gift shop on the building’s mezzanine.

The First United Building is something to see, an Art Deco masterpiece dating from pre-World War II days. Notable are the architectural details of the building, especially the stairs and geometric grillework.

Across the street is the dowager Regina Building, dating from the same period, whose tower flanks the First United Tower to provide a grand entrance to Escolta from Plaza Sta. Cruz.

Other heritage buildings on both sides of the narrow street are Burke, Juan Luna and Panpisco Buildings, Capitol Theater, and TEOFF Center (formerly Natividad Building).

The ensemble of the buildings along the Escolta is one of the handsomest architectural settings in Manila which still manages to portray its days as the city’s center of power and finance before moving away to Ayala Avenue and Makati.

Many firsts

Grand staircases and elegant grillework marked the pre-WorldWar II era of Escolta buildings.

Escolta is a time machine. The primer asks: “What don’t people know about Escolta?” It not only has much history, it is also the site of many “firsts” in the country.

First ice cream parlor in the country was Clarke’s, established during the early days of the American colonial period.

Other firsts to happen on the street were the first moviehouse; the first elevator, installed at Burke Building; and the premier stop of the first Manila cable car, the tranvia.

Other firsts? Movie and TV production outfits started out on Escolta, such as Dolphy’s RVQ and GMA 7. National Book Store and Bookmark started out there as well.

Urban legend says that Jose Rizal’s remains were kept somewhere on Escolta before they were transferred to his final resting place at the Luneta.

The biggest misconception, says the primer, is that people think all life has gone away from the street, leaving it dangerous and dark at night. Not true.

Ecai is actively reviving the historical strip and the association does not take security for granted. They are in close contact with city and police authorities, the local barangay, and keep it safe from petty crimes.

Restaurants? There are all kinds of restaurants on the street. Choose from among Uno Seafood Restaurant, coffee shops and other restaurants in the neighboring Binondo area, where excellent Chinese food and even vegetarian restaurants are found.

Soon 98B is opening a coffee shop.

More people-friendly

Trees still stand on Escolta whereas they have been cut down inmost of Manila.

Running parallel with 98B’s efforts to revive Escolta is the solid work done by Ecai which has just celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Aside from assuring security, Ecai has done much to improve facilities in the area, especially in cleanliness, ensuring safe and well-paved sidewalks, and making the Escolta area more people-friendly.

Ecai’s primary mission is to renew interest in Escolta; to attract people to the area; and most importantly, to attract 21st-century businesses to the area, especially call centers.

Leading the way in attracting call centers to locate in the Escolta area is the almost-completed Juan Luna Building on Juan Luna Street, Muelle de la Industria, on the Pasig banks.

Juan Luna Building was constructed in the early 20th century as the Philippine headquarters for what was then the First National City Bank of New York (now Citibank). After years of abandonment, the building was restored, fitted out as a call center, and is now ready to accept its first tenants.

From seeing what is happening on Escolta, the revival of Manila is becoming more and more a reality.

Sam Miguel
05-10-2013, 10:06 AM
River cruises offer ‘a whole new way’ of seeing Europe

5:38 am | Sunday, May 5th, 2013

It couldn’t have happened at a more fitting time. As a growing number of affluent Filipinos are discovering for themselves the beauty of going on a river cruise in Europe, a Filipino, Marilen Sandejas-Yaptangco, graced the recent christening of the Artistry II in Middelburg, the Netherlands.

As the ship’s godmother, Yaptangco, a travel industry veteran and president and CEO of Manila-based Baron Travel, wasn’t only the first Filipino, but also the first Asian woman to have been given such an honor.

“This isn’t just a feather on Baron Travel’s cap,” Yaptangco said a day later, and soon after a walking tour of the scenic and medieval city of Bruges, Belgium. “For a Filipino to be chosen as godmother of a ship is a big honor and source of pride not only for the Philippines, but for the entire region.”

In her long years in the industry, she couldn’t recall an instance when an Asian woman, let alone a Filipino, was asked to be godmother of a ship. It was always either a Caucasian celebrity or member of royalty who did the honors. It was also an indication, said Yaptangco, of Asia’s growing importance as a market for such upscale tours. (A typical eight- to 12-night river cruise anywhere in Europe could set you back $2,500 per person).

In all likelihood, it was also probably the first time the Philippine flag fluttered side by side with an EU-member and Avalon Waterways flags in any of the company’s ships.

Braving the nippy, winter-like Northern European spring, Yaptangco, assisted by ship captain Milos Laskovich and Avalon Waterways managing director J. Patrick Clark Jr., had to wear a black coat with ruffled details over a white, form-fitting and beaded jersey number by Nono Palmos, as she turned on the charm.

Instead of hitting the ship with a bottle of champagne like they did in the old days, Yaptangco swung a dangling one attached to a rope. Yaptangco finally succeeded in cracking the bottle on her fourth try, to the cheers of guests and spectators, including her husband Alex Yaptangco and their two children Miggy Sandejas and Rafa Yaptangco.

“Patrick kept on assuring me that it wasn’t my fault,” said an amused Yaptangco. “They later had to adjust the length of the rope to allow the bottle to hit the ship with maximum impact.”

Relevant

The event, she added, became all the more relevant because she totally belonged to the industry. It would have been probably more expedient and newsworthy had they gotten, say, a famous Filipino celebrity or broadcaster, but that would have totally missed the point. Since Yaptangco’s company is the exclusive GSA or general sales agent of Avalon Waterways in the Philippines, she is, in effect, part of the company’s success.

It was also an acknowledgment, said Yaptangco, of the Asia-Pacific region’s growing importance to Europe’s tourism industry. Because of Baron Travel’s head start in promoting Avalon Waterways, the Philippines reportedly ranked first last year, beating much bigger and more affluent markets like Japan and China, in terms of the number of tourists who went on a river cruise holiday in Europe.

“It was Stewart Williams, managing director of Circuit Travel, Avalon’s GSA in the Asia-Pacific region, who first informed me in August of the company’s invitation,” said Yaptangco. “My first reaction was, ‘Why me?’ They answered back with a question: ‘Why not?’”

The Artistry II is Avalon Waterways’ newest ship among its 12-vessel (and counting) fleet cruising the rivers and waterways of Europe. Apart from belonging to the Switzerland-based Globus Family of Brands, which includes Cosmos and Globus Motorcoach (bus) Tours, Avalon has several joint ventures with private companies in China, Egypt, the US and South America to do river cruises there.

Since Baron became Globus’ exclusive GSA in the Philippines for its motor coach and river cruises more than 25 years ago, Yaptangco noticed that the company’s tour packages, particularly its river cruises, have become more diverse, and gained considerable ground among upscale and well-traveled Filipinos.

“First they go on an ocean cruise,” said Yaptangco, whose company is also the exclusive GSA of Royal Caribbean cruises. “As they venture further and try to discover what’s new, they start going on river cruises.”

Apart from providing seasoned travelers with a totally different cruising experience, Yaptangco packages river cruising as a “whole new way” of seeing and experiencing Europe.

During our four-day christening cruise, for instance, we had guided walking tours of Antwerp, Middelburg, Veere and Bruges (more on these attractions next time). We also sailed through several so-called locks, a mini-version, if you will, of the Panama Canal, which control the level and flow of certain European rivers to keep them from inundating low-lying cities and villages in their banks.

There was even an option for intrepid and outdoorsy guests, which included a sizable delegation of travel executives and journalists from the Philippines, to bike from Veere to Middelburg, while the boat sailed to the latter destination. Owing to the cold, damp weather, there were no takers.

Herculean attempt

Earlier, during the third day, a group, including this writer, opted to take a guided excursion to the Delta Works, a Herculean attempt of the Dutch government, through a series of mega dikes, pumps, sensors and monitors, to control floods, divert sea currents and reclaim sizable tracts of land from the North Sea in the wake of the country’s great flood of 1953.

Like in a typical ocean cruise, guests have the option to go on drive-by and walking tours, as the ship makes daily stops. They have no reason not to go, since such tours don’t require them to shell out additional money.

“A river cruise may seem more expensive,” said Yaptangco. “That’s because, unlike in ocean cruises, the shore excursions are already factored in as part of the price.”

Part of the christening package includes bus tours of certain sections of The Hague, as our group headed for an afternoon visit to the tulip gardens of Keukenhof. You need not be a flower lover to be amazed at the variety, color and texture of tulips. Now is the best time to visit the Netherlands, as tulips are currently in full bloom.

On our fourth day, a pair of brew masters from a small family-owned brewery in Belgium called Grutt gave guests a “culture and cruise” presentation on Belgian beers.

We thought beers were synonymous with Germany—until we learned that there were close to 1,250 breweries in Belgium, many of them non-listed family businesses. Germany can only boast of 350 breweries.

The ship’s seeming limitations have proven to be its strength, said Clark. On top of several deluxe suites with receiving areas or staterooms, a typical ship has 60 or so twin-occupancy suites and cabins, many with sliding picture windows.

For one, because of its limited size, it offers an intimate venue for its core market composed mainly of lovers, honeymooners and couples with grownup children. It also appeals to more mature pairs celebrating their wedding anniversaries and renewal vows.

Unlike in a titanic cruise ship, Avalon’s ships are much smaller, as they’re built to run through rivers and certain waterways. Thus, they don’t offer as many dining and recreational options.

The Artistry II, for instance, hosts meals at its main dining venue, simply known as the ground-floor restaurant. For after-dinner drinks, tapas and entertainment, there’s the Panorama Lounge on the second deck.

The special run’s featured attraction during christening night was a band dubbed the A-GoGo. One of its lead singers is a Dutch national of Filipino descent.

“If you have young people looking for venues to dance all night and play video games, then this ship is probably not for you,” said Clark. “What we offer guests is a more intimate, more relaxed and more personalized experience.”

The Panorama Lounge, by the way, takes its name from the design of Avalon’s new generation of ships, including the Artistry II, called the panorama class. A typical twin-occupancy suite has a floor area of 200 square feet.

“The Artistry II is the fourth ship in our fleet belonging to the Panorama series,” said Clark. “The fifth one is going to be delivered in two days.”

People who feel dizzy at the slightest motion need not worry. Since Artistry II and its sister ships sail along rivers, guests are spared from being tossed like a salad by giant ocean waves. Except on a few occasions, our group hardly felt abrupt movements.

And to ensure their guests’ safety and comfort, Clark emphasized the fact that Avalon Waterways boasts of one of the youngest fleets in the business.

“We like to retire our ships young,” he said. “At six years of age, we think a ship has had a good run.”

Sam Miguel
05-21-2013, 08:44 AM
Native sausages and more islands

By Amadís Ma. Guerrero

2:26 am | Saturday, May 18th, 2013

The top tourist attractions in Pangasinan are religious, the miraculous Our Lady of Manaoag Shrine, for instance, and “secular,” like the Hundred Islands National Park, which the Philippine Tourism Authority has turned over administratively to the City of Alaminos headed by Mayor Hernani A. Braganza.

There was a grand total of 183,000 visitors to the Hundred Islands last year, of whom 171,926 were domestic tourists and 11,077 foreigners. This compared to a total of 154,425 tourist arrivals in 2011.

“The Hundred Islands account for 72 percent of tourist arrivals in Pangasinan,” Braganza said. “So there has been a dramatic increase in the number of tourists in Alaminos and also in the number of hotels.”

We were in Alaminos—182 kilometers north of Manila—recently for the San José Gali-la Festival. “Gali-la” is a Pangasinense term roughly translated as “come join us. St. Joseph is the patron saint of the city. The imposing parish church is named after Jesus’ father on earth, and around the church and plaza you still see a number of well-preserved ancestral homes.

Alaminos ‘longganisa’

A highlight of the festival was an Alaminos longganisa (native sausages) eating competition. These are said to be all-natural with no preservatives, and always come with two sticks (instead of the usual cord) which hold the sausage in place. “Alaminos longganisa is one of the best ever,” boasted the master of ceremonies, City Tourism Officer Miguel L. Sison.

The competition was for men and women, one group after the other. There was a medical team around to take the blood pressure of the contestants, if need be. “If you have high blood (hypertension), don’t join,” warned Sison.

Lots were drawn and those with a number were qualified to join. Ladies first, then the men. Styrofoam plates with longganisa and rice were placed before the phalanx and, at a signal, the panic eating began, amidst much merriment, encouragement and picture-taking.

Soon hands were raised; the first three to finish in each group were given cash prizes (P3,000 down).

Still a beauty

If you’re in Alaminos, what do you do? Of course, you visit the Hundred Islands in Barangay Lucap (Tel. 075-5512505/ 5527406), and never mind if you have toured the islands before. These remain a beauty (except for one island, a portion of which has apparently eroded), with dazzling white sand, limestone cliffs, vegetation (brown in parts due to summer), caves, and private beach coves accessible through motor boats where you can swim, snorkel, bring food and drinks, and just laze around and enjoy the natural scenery.

“Look, the sand here is more powdery than in Boracay where thousands of feet tread,” observed coordinator Bernard Supetran.

The highest point in the immediate vicinity is at the top of Governor’s Island, which you reach through spiral stone steps. We ascended these, and in a few minutes I was huffing and puffing, because of old age. “Up there is the best view of the islands,” Bernard said encouragingly. Thanks a lot.

But he was right. At the summit, a grand view of the many islands unfolds before you. Everyone just clicks and clicks away, including, of course, the obligatory souvenir shots.

To paraphrase that old song by Bing Crosby, it was lovelier encountering the Hundred Islands the third time around.

Sam Miguel
05-21-2013, 09:15 AM
An incompetent airport manager

By Ramon Tulfo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:00 am | Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

For over a month now, the central air-conditioning system at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 3 has not been functioning.

Passengers, especially those in the departure area, are suffering from the heat, especially since it is summer.

Last Saturday, I saw many of my fellow passengers fanning themselves to ease their discomfort. Many were sweating profusely.

But nobody at the Manila International Airport Authority (Miaa), which runs the Naia 1, 2, 3 and 4 terminals, cares whether people faint from the heat, as long as their executives are in their air-conditioned rooms at Naia Terminal 1.

Even Miaa General Manager Jose Angel Honrado, who’s supposed to look after the comfort and safety of arriving and departing passengers, doesn’t seem to care.

“Honrado doesn’t visit us here, so how can he know this place is so hot?” said a security guard assigned at Naia 3.

Honrado, who is called names by his subordinates behind his back for allegedly not knowing how to run an airport, is safe in his comfort zone because he happens to be President Noy’s relative.

The Miaa official is a retired Air Force general who was an aide to President Cory Aquino when he was a young officer.

As aide, one of his jobs was carrying the President’s handbag, instead of flying a plane like his fellow officers.

He’s an example of a square-peg-in-a-round-hole official and typifies many appointed officials in the Aquino government today.


* * *

Honrado probably thinks that making the rounds of the four terminals is beneath him since he’s a former Air Force general.

That’s why when he goes out to dine in classy restaurants he has a full complement of bodyguards befitting a military general.

Now, who would want to harm an official holding a noncontroversial position such as that of Naia general manager?

Unless he’s afraid of irate plane passengers.


* * *

Another guy in the P-Noy administration who looks like he doesn’t know what he’s doing is Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.

Almost all the airports in the country have defects: malfunctioning X-ray machines, stinking toilets, leaking roofs, faulty air-conditioning systems, etc.

Where does the money each passenger shells out for terminal fee go? Isn’t this supposed to fund airport maintenance?

Perhaps Abaya can answer these questions.


* * *

On June 15, all small town lottery (STL) contracts with the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) will expire.

Another form of legal gambling has been proposed to take the place of STL: Bingo Milyonaryo (millionaires’ bingo).

An STL owner, who has connections with a relative of P-Noy, wants the new gambling system centralized throughout the country.

There’s a big possibility the proposed set-up will be approved since the President reportedly cannot say no to this relative.

Sam Miguel
05-23-2013, 08:53 AM
Hotels’ bid for tax perks rejected

DOF says profitable proponents don’t need incentive

By Ronnel W. Domingo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:22 pm | Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

The Department of Finance shot down an appeal from a group of hotel owners for the revocation of a Board of Investments (BOI) rule that took away the income tax exemptions of it members.

Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima on Wednesday said that hotels and resorts in the country’s most popular tourist destinations did not need an income tax holiday (ITH) incentive.

Purisima was reacting to an open letter from the Philippine Hotel Federation Inc. (PHFI) asking President Aquino to revoke BOI Regulation No. 2013-001, which affected hotels and resorts in Metro Manila, Cebu City and the islands of Mactan and Boracay. The new rule provides that the tax exemption for such projects, if they apply for registration with the BOI through the 2012 Investment Priorities Plan, would cover only levies related to capital equipment and not income tax.

The BOI and the DOF are usually at loggerheads regarding tax perks. The DOF continues to push for a program to rationalize all fiscal incentives across industries, but this has so far failed to advance in Congress.

The income tax holiday “for already very profitable hotels serves only to further enrich a select few rather than improve the overall environment for tourism investments,” Purisima argued.

According to PHFI’s website, the following are represented in the group’s board of directors: The Bellevue Manila, Diamond Hotel Philippines, The Pan Pacific Manila, Holiday Inn Galleria Manila, Shangri-la Group, Ascott Makati, The Heritage Hotel Manila, El Nido Resorts, Ayala Group, The Peninsula Manila and Waterfront Group.

“We’d rather collect income taxes and invest in better infrastructure that will further attract more entities to invest in the Philippines,” Purisima added.

He said the tourism industry in those four geographic areas mentioned was strong enough that it would remain competitive even without the income tax holiday incentive.

Citing BOI data from 2009-2010, Purisima said the total average return on investments of the travel and tourism industry was 15 percent without the income tax perk.

He noted that more than half of the tourism-related projects for those two years were located in at least one of the four areas covered by the BOI regulation.

The same data also showed that the government might lose P1.06 billon in income tax revenue if projects in those four areas—in tourism as well as other industries—were exempted from paying income taxes.

“Indeed, factors referred to by PHFI itself as holding back our country’s tourism competitiveness potential—such as safety and security concerns, inadequate health and hygiene and underdeveloped ground transport and ICT (information and communication technology) infrastructure—may be addressed using tax revenues,” Purisima said.

Sam Miguel
05-28-2013, 08:26 AM
Boracay loses P6M daily from dropped bookings

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.

Inquirer Visayas

7:57 pm | Monday, May 27th, 2013

ILOILO CITY—Boracay Island’s tourism industry stands to lose at least P187 million monthly or P6 million daily with the cancellation of hotel bookings and tours of Taiwanese tourists, a tourism official said.

Helen Catalbas, Western Visayas tourism director, said an average of 7,500 Taiwanese tourists visit the popular island-resort monthly and each tourist spends an average of $600 for accommodations and other expenses while on the island.

This would amount to a total of $4.5 million, or P187.4 million monthly.

The estimate excludes airline and other revenues, according to Catalbas.

Taiwanese tourists are the second top foreign market of Boracay and the fifth in the country.

In 2012, 92,209 tourists from Taiwan topped Boracay tourist arrivals, next only to Korea, which had 156,445 tourists. China was third with 82,358 tourists.

But tourist arrivals from Taiwan have dropped significantly due to cancellation of tours and booking amid the diplomatic row between Taiwan and the Philippines.

The row was triggered by the killing of Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-chen, 65, by Philippine Coast Guard personnel in the waters off Balintang Island in northern Philippines on May 9.

At least 43 chartered flights from May 20 to June 30 between the capital town of Kalibo in Aklan and Taiwan have been canceled.

The resorts and hotels in Boracay have also reported cancellation for bookings for hundreds of rooms.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is boosting its marketing and promotional efforts in other countries to offset the slack in tourist arrivals due to the cancellations.

The targeted countries include Korea, China, United States, Australia, Russia, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.

Catalbas left for Japan on Sunday as part of a Philippine business mission, which will visit four cities and meet with about 200 travel agents, and market Western Visayas as a tourist destination.

The DOT in Western Visayas is targeting three million tourists in the region this year, a 15-percent increase from the estimated 2.6 million recorded in 2012.

Sam Miguel
06-19-2013, 08:50 AM
1335 A. Mabini St.–from colonial mansion to contemporary landmark

A tribal art showroom and modern art gallery have revitalized the historic structure that is Casa Tesoro

By Glenna Aquino

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:36 am | Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Casa Tesoro was a stately home on A. Mabini Street in Ermita when the district and its surrounding arrabales like Malate were enclaves of landed gentry with second homes. The mansion was built as a vacation house and once marked a whole neighborhood’s genteel and patrician identity.

Founded in the late 16th century, the district called Ermita, after the Spanish word for hermitage, was a secluded place. The Ermita church was where an image of the Nuestra Señora de Guia (Our Lady of Guidance) was kept.

During the American colonial period, Ermita was the university belt, where the campuses and dormitories of the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila, Adamson University, Assumption College and St. Paul College were located.

The residential section of Ermita was populated by Americans who set up exclusive establishments such as the Army and Navy Club and University Club. During the 1945 Battle of Manila, Ermita was the scene of some of the most horrific massacres that occurred during World War II.

Fateful events

Casa Tesoro was built in 1901 and witnessed enough of these fateful events for it to become a historic structure with intrinsic architectural value for future generations. It had gone from stately vacation home to wartime army headquarters to postal station, and many other functions that changed its original fabric.

Ironically, by the ’70s, Ermita, the place of seclusion and retreat, had gained notoriety as a red-light district with a heavy concentration of girlie bars on Mabini and MH del Pilar Streets. Then, in the mid-’90s, in a major move to sanitize the notorious district, a new mayor closed down all the massage parlors and girlie bars in the area.

The main streets of Ermita were left with padlocked establishments and tourists looking for Philippine crafts and souvenirs to take home.

Ermita remained a place where all the antique and curio shops could be found, wedged in between music bars and pubs that had survived the mayor’s purge.

Hard times

Around this time in 1995, tribal art and antiques dealer Maria Closa moved into Casa Tesoro, setting up shop on the second floor. Shortly after, the rest of the spaces on the ground floor were rented out to smaller antique dealers displaced when Chateau Marie, the old Zobel Mansion facing Manila Bay, was torn down to make way for a 52-story condominium.

The years 2008 to 2010 were hard times for the antique dealers. The market suffered a slump and slowly, one by one, the displaced Chateau Marie dealers moved out of Casa Tesoro.

Maria, together with old friend and collaborator Rudolph Kratochwill, an art collector and gallery owner from Austria, decided to stay behind. Just when everything else around them seemed to be in transition, Maria dusted her shelves and rode the shifting tides of a finicky and sluggish antiques market.

As the character of the neighborhood changed, so did the mansion’s uses. Casa Tesoro had lost its charm and now housed businesses such as a spa, a nightclub, a restaurant, money changers, an employment agency and a bar. It had become untidy.

By 2012, even these establishments had left Casa Tesoro. Again, no one except Maria and Rudolph stayed behind. If only to sustain the viability of the old mansion as a landmark, they decided to stay put. After negotiating with her longtime landlord to take over the rest of the vacated spaces—now comprising four units spread out on the ground floor, second floor and third floor—Maria and Rudolph got to work.

Springboards

Together, they reorganized the vacated spaces in Casa Tesoro and brought them back to life. The empty rooms became springboards for their enthusiasm and creativity to sustain the old mansion.

Although no structural upgrading was done, they freshened up the interiors with better lighting and, along with the façade, a new coat of paint. Casa Tesoro now functions as a tribal art and antiquities showroom that carries outstanding sculptures, textiles, ritual objects and accessories from the Cordilleras.

It is also a contemporary art space, cheekily called BAR (Bureau of Artistic Rehabilitation), that showcases the works of internationally active Philippine contemporary artists.

The showrooms of Maria Closa and BAR have transformed the old mansion, bringing back some of its old charm with new iconoclastic paintings and artworks by Manuel Ocampo and Jayson Oliveria. Clearly, with adaptive reuse, the mansion has been given a new lease on life—and a new flavor for the times we live in.

Sam Miguel
06-26-2013, 09:52 AM
The whole enchilada

Philippine Daily Inquirer

8:51 pm | Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

The confirmation by Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya that the rehabilitation of Terminal 1 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport is finally underway is a belated but much welcome piece of good news. Even better, the project to overhaul the airport has been awarded to a team that will now include the design group of Kenneth Cobonpue, Budji Layug and Royal Pineda on one hand, and the architectural firm of Leandro V. Locsin & Associates on the other.

One may recall the flap that happened last year when industrial designer Cobonpue, furniture and interior designer Layug, and architect Pineda disseminated via the social media a blueprint for a redesign of Naia that immediately captured public attention. The design sought to bring what an online travel article had dubbed “the worst airport in the world” to 21st-century standards by expanding and reorganizing the structure for smoother traffic flow, refurbishing facilities into modern amenities now standard in other top-tier international airports, and creating pockets of greenery and open spaces via a tropical garden and tree-lined walkways.

Cobonpue, Layug and Pineda’s innovative concept was the result of eight months of pro bono work. They said it had the approval of the Manila International Airport Authority and former Transportation Secretary Jose “Ping” de Jesus, both of whom solicited recommendations for the airport’s makeover. The trio’s patriotic gesture was hailed by many as an example not only of the private sector stepping up to lend a hand to the government, but more so, in this case, of world-class Filipino talent (Cobonpue, Layug and Pineda are internationally acclaimed for their design work) coming together for the urgent cause of revamping the country’s crumbling international gateway.

But when it came time for the government to respond, it did so in a typically clumsy manner. Without so much as an acknowledgment of the designers’ efforts or the merits of their work, the transportation department then under Mar Roxas eventually announced it had tapped the services of Leandro V. Locsin & Associates for the airport makeover. While the move made technical sense—Locsin was the original architectural and engineering firm that designed Naia Terminal 1, thus “the firm’s insights will be of valuable help in minimizing disruption to operations,” said Roxas—the way it all unraveled, with Cobonpue et al. seemingly unceremoniously set aside, left a bad taste in the mouth.

That was in November 2011. A year and a half later, the government has made a turnaround by announcing that the triumvirate has been called back to join forces with the Locsin firm as the project finally gets underway. “They were temporarily set aside, not rejected since there was no bidding yet,” said MIAA general manager Jose Angel Honrado.

It’s the right move, and it’s about time. The P2.8-billion rehab of Naia Terminal 1 is a gargantuan project that needs the brightest minds—and the cleanest hands—if it is to be finished on time (within two years) and according to the aspirations of a country that has pegged tourism as one of its main economic drivers. Built in 1983 by the late National Artist Leandro Locsin, Naia is the world’s 34th busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic—some 27.1 million in 2010 and 32.1 million in 2011. That figure is dangerously close to the projected 35-million annual capacity of the airport, so an overhaul, and not only the piecemeal renovations done from time to time, is clearly long overdue.

And since the government has now embarked on revamping the physical structure of Naia, it would do well to consider the other problems that bedevil it. Just outside the decrepit arrival gates, for example, are that other source of embarrassment—unscrupulous cab drivers who, most likely with the connivance of airport authorities, fleece visitors and tourists with exorbitant rates or, in a few cases, rob them outright. The swarm of hangers-on allowed to intercept arriving passengers is not only an invitation to lowlifes to mulct and mug the unsuspecting, but is also, at the very least, a perennial eyesore.

In the end, no amount of physical facelift will redeem the country’s premier international gateway if the experience just outside of it remains inconvenient, even dangerous, to passengers. If Naia is in for a makeover, let it be the whole enchilada.

Sam Miguel
07-10-2013, 08:38 AM
Ooh la la! More French tourists coming to PH

By Tarra Quismundo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

6:20 am | Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—From a “question mark,” the Philippines is slowly becoming a destination to check out for the French.

Tourist traffic from France is gradually picking up amid growing interest in the Philippines, about which the French virtually know nothing, French Ambassador to Manila Gilles Garachon said on Monday night.

French awareness of the Philippines has been increasing of late as cultural, political and academic exchanges between the two countries increase, said Garachon, who has been serving in Manila since 2012.

“It’s starting. There is a momentum. And I think we have to keep this momentum. This is going to increase, I’m sure. There is plenty of room to increase the relations—of course there is cultural relations, but also in the field of trade, in the field of politics, also the exchange of students between universities,” Garachon said on the sidelines of the French Embassy’s celebration of Bastille Day at his Makati City residence.

Embassy data showed French tourist arrivals in the Philippines increased by 14 percent from 29,591 in 2011 to 33,709 in 2012.

Main difficulty

Garachon said promoting the Philippines in France was his “main difficulty “as an ambassador, as most French knew only nations that figured in their history.

“French people… see the geography very linked to history. And if a country has historical links with France, then it appears on the map. But for the Philippines, we never had any historical connection. Not at all. So for French people, the Philippines is just a question mark,” Garachon said.

“So part of my job and part of the job of the ambassador of the Philippines in Paris is to make French people discover more about the Philippines,” said Garachon, who had been posted to Hong Kong, Jakarta and Bangkok before being assigned to Manila.

Texting PH envoy

According to Garachon, he is constantly in touch with Philippine Ambassador to France Cristina Ortega, hoping to coordinate their efforts to boost people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

“I text the Philippine ambassador in Paris every week. We exchange a lot of information and we work very much closely together,” Garachon said.

He is optimistic that air services negotiations between the Philippines and the European Union would lead to the reopening of European destinations to Philippine airlines.

The European Union is set to decide Wednesday on the Philippines’ bid to lift a ban on Philippine airlines in Europe.

“[I hope] it will work out. We don’t have any direct flight to Europe now. And there should be, because to go to France from the Philippines, it takes 24 hours. If there were a direct flight, it would take only 12 hours. So we all look forward to having those direct flights. I think it’s going to happen,” Garachon said.

Philippine exhibit

The Philippines is boosting its image in France with a three-month exhibit of precolonial art at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris.

The exhibit, “Philippines: Archipel des échanges” (Philippines: An Archipelago of Exchanges), opened on April 9 and will end on July 14, coinciding with France’s National Day.

“I think this exhibit is a great occasion. [All over] Paris, you had a signboard about this exhibit about the Philippines, with beautiful pictures,” Garachon said.

“People loved it and because they were discovering something completely new. In France, nobody knows about the art of the Philippines. And so they discovered it and they enjoyed it very much,” he said.

The exhibit brings together Philippine precolonial art and artifacts from collections in the Philippines, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and the United States.

It is the largest exhibit of Philippine art in Europe, according to the French Embassy in Manila.

Sam Miguel
07-10-2013, 09:34 AM
Manila’s bridges

By Michael L. Tan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:20 am | Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Last weekend, I decided to try a new bridge offering rapid transit from Bacood, Manila, into Kalentong, Mandaluyong. The bridge is supposed to be an alternative to the congested V. Mapa area.

You see signs right after coming out of the Paco-Pandacan bridge into the motels area, with signs enticing and directing you to the bridge. The drive across the bridge was indeed rapid and I had visions of getting to my destination within a few minutes.

Alas, the end of the bridge takes you into one of the most congested segments of Kalentong (or is it New Panaderos?), with jeepneys intent on blocking you from getting off. When you finally get off the bridge, it’s another long struggle with people and vehicles before you get into a slightly more civilized Shaw Boulevard.

The rather unpleasant drive across Paco-Pandacan and then Bacood-Mandaluyong got me into a bit of nostalgia for the older bridges of Manila. There was a time when Manila’s bridges represented progress and modernity, gleaming and towering, as well as the might of our colonial rulers. I have memories of these bridges, its histories providing materials for quiz shows and parlor games.

3 grand bridges

There were the three grandest bridges, built parallel across the Pasig, each taking you into a different world. Going from Manila’s City Hall, past the once-grand, art-nouveau Metropolitan Theater, you get into Quezon Bridge which takes you into the Quiapo area and, farther on, into the university belt (Far Eastern University, University of the East, University of Santo Tomas, and others). Its first name was Punta Colgante, which literally means “a hanging bridge,” the original structure built in 1852, the first of its kind in southeast Asia. It was later renamed Puente de Claveria, after a Spanish governor-general, and then replaced in the 1930s, during the American colonial period, by a steel-arched Quezon bridge.

The middle bridge I knew only as “Sta. Cruz Bridge” because it led into Plaza Goiti, the Sta. Cruz church, Escolta and Rizal Avenue, which in my childhood still had some fine shops (for example, Oceanic Commercial, known for its imports from France). Rizal Avenue was running down but was still decent, as long as you didn’t cross Azcarraga (now Claro M. Recto).

The bridge my family took most often was Jones Bridge, which led you into Chinatown or the Binondo area. Driving across Jones meant we were going into the “lai kwe,” the inner streets of Chinatown with promises of cheap but sumptuous food, goldsmiths and jewelers, school supplies, mysterious Chinese drugstores with an occasional doctor taking someone’s pulses (in Chinese medicine we have 12 pulses) and doing acupuncture.

Jones Bridge, it turns out, was first built as Puente Grande; the name tells you it must have awed people initially. It was later renamed Puente de España. Again under the Americans, the bridge was rebuilt in 1916, in a neoclassical design. Old photographs suggest it was probably the most artistic of the three bridges. But it was destroyed by the Japanese, and the rebuilt postwar version is quite plain.

The three bridges were only part of a grander, historic Manila, represented by the Manila Central Post Office near the foot of Jones Bridge. In front of the Post Office was Plaza Lawton, which was a favorite starting point for many of the Left’s political rallies in the late 1960s, into the First Quarter Storm of 1970 and, later, during martial law. (Plaza Miranda, in front of Quiapo Church, was more for mainstream political parties’ miting de avance during elections.) The National Press Club was closer to Jones Bridge; it was not just a watering hole for journalists but also an incubator for a growing nationalism among media people.

Besides the three bridges, there was Ayala Bridge, not in Makati but in Manila, connecting San Miguel and Arroceros. This was built in 1872 by Jacobo Zobel de Ayala, and replaced by a steel structure in 1908. A persistent urban myth about Ayala Bridge was that it was designed by Eiffel—yes, the same person who built the Parisian structure. Other urban myths say he built Punta Colgante (Quezon Bridge).

The middle of Ayala Bridge leads to a small islet and an orphanage, the Hospicio de San Jose, founded in 1778. The structure today is obviously not the original, and I do not know if it still has its famous revolving cradle that discreetly allowed infants to be dropped off to the care of the nuns.

This area was the original “university belt,” mainly with two state colleges: Philippine Normal University and Technological University of the Philippines. There are also some private universities now in the vicinity.

Still another bridge, not quite as grand but still impressive, was Nagtahan, now renamed Mabini, Bridge and connecting Sampalok and Pandacan. I could not find the date for Nagtahan’s construction.

Finally, there is Del Pan, now renamed Roxas, Bridge, which connects Tondo and North Harbor to the rest of Manila. Again, I could not find the date for its construction.

Under the bridge

Sadly, bridges and flyovers no longer mean progress and development. Instead, they seem to represent squalor “nakatira sa ilalim ng tulay” (living under a bridge) and the worst of poverty. But it isn’t just under the bridge where you find poverty. The bridges are now often surrounded by depressing and depressed communities.

One of the worst is the Paco-Pandacan, which used to have hundreds of families living by the railway. The families have been relocated but there are still shanties there, and around Christmas the bridge is lined with Badjao beggars. On polluted nights, the dark night and the fog come together to make them look like ghosts, mostly women carrying young infants to try to get you to give alms, or food.

Even the grand old bridges have deteriorated, the structures as well as their environs. And a trip across the bridges no longer leave you captivated. The Pasig River, which once had a thriving riverine transport system with ferry points close to the bridges, has come close to dying a number of times. There are signs that the river is coming to life again, but the bridges do not seem to be part of a grander scheme or urban renewal.

In fact, driving across the bridges now seems fraught with risks. Every January city officials warn about MacArthur and Quezon Bridges having structural problems and possibly not being able to withstand the many devotees that come out for the Nazarene.

The two bridges lead to churches, where the most desperate of appeals for divine intercession are made. But there are times, too, stuck in gridlock on the bridge, with or without rain, I hope against hope that we will not need a miracle to get through.

Sam Miguel
08-02-2013, 10:27 AM
We’re not ready for tourism prime time

DEMAND AND SUPPLY

By Boo Chanco

(The Philippine Star) | Updated August 2, 2013 - 12:00am

One of the first lessons in advertising I learned many years ago from the late Antonio de Joya is this: nothing kills a good product or service faster than great advertising. I am seeing this happening right now in our tourism effort.

Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez belongs to my generation of advertising professionals who has become as legendary, if not more so, than the likes of my late mentor Tony de Joya. I worked with Mon on the Petron account in the early ’80s, followed his fantastic career and I can say he has to be one of the best in my generation.

Mon is in the habit of creating great advertising. Working with a younger generation of advertising geniuses, he has produced just about the most effective advertising campaign for Philippine tourism ever. It’s more fun in the Philippines, we promised, and it has created an interest in our country like we have not seen in a long time.

And that seems to be the problem we now have to face: we cannot live up to its promise. Sure, we have the great beaches, and even greater people with our world renowned hospitality. But we have horrible infrastructure and that problem will negate our efforts to promote tourism if that has not started to happen already.

For example, let us take Kalibo International Airport, the gateway to Boracay, our principal tourist destination. Interest in Boracay is so high that there is no longer a low season… tourists are flocking there even now in the rainy season. There isn’t a decent room to be had if you go there without prior reservations.

I know… Trishy, my daughter who lives in Anaheim, was just there late last week and got back a few days ago. She and her family, an Argentinian-American husband, two kids and two friends from California, didn’t exactly have the best of time in this visit.

Trishy loves Boracay and wanted to celebrate her wedding anniversary there. But now she said that was her last visit, unless things improve.

Boracay itself seemed to her, to be hosting more than the number of tourists it can reasonably carry. The beach is still fine but not as clean as it was when we used to go there 10 or so years ago. Tourist gouging is prevalent. Her real problem with this visit was Kalibo International Airport.

Maybe it was an unusually bad day at the Kalibo airport. But a friend who runs a hotel in Boracay tell me that it is a normally bad day there everyday for more than three years or so or since they opened it up to international flights.

The terminal simply cannot take in the number of passengers being disgorged by increased domestic and direct flights from Korea, China, Japan and even Russia on a daily basis. There is also not enough space on the ground to take in more than four A320s at a time.

My other US-based daughter who was there last February complained of the inadequacies of the terminal building… the lack of flight monitors, inadequate public address system and general state of bedlam. I suppose it only got worse.

Last Monday, Trishy got to the terminal to take the 4 p.m. flight to Manila of Zest Air. But Zest Air had big problems that day. Its direct flight from Incheon was delayed four hours due to bad weather in Korea. One Zest Air plane was immobilized in one of the gates. It needed a spare part from Manila but because Kalibo was so congested, the flight with it couldn’t come in.

Indeed, one Zest Air flight with passengers on board was waiting for five hours at NAIA for clearance to fly to Kalibo, which was too congested to receive it. The Zest Air flight from Korea was eventually allowed to leave Incheon but was directed to land in Cebu where it waited for at least a couple of hours. Kalibo was still too congested to receive the flight.

As for my daughter and her family, they finally took off around 9 p.m. and got to Manila shortly thereafter. She wanted to complain but a man on the 9 a.m. flight was at the airport at 6 a.m. and he left at 9 p.m. with her. She sat next to the pilot of the 11 a.m. flight and he was at the airport for at least 10 hours.

Her problem was that she booked her flight with a small airline. With a limited number of aircraft, when delays happen in the morning, the whole day’s schedule is screwed. In fact, the plane they finally took back to Manila was an Air Asia plane, the sister company of Zest.

But airline delays happen… the real problem is the horribly inadequate terminal in Kalibo. Imagine waves of passengers just piling into the terminal which can only take a couple of hundred passengers. Kalibo also needs more capacity to take in more planes at a time.

My fear here is that Kalibo’s barbaric airport is the first and last impression tourists have of our country. Assuming they enjoyed Boracay, that will be forgotten and the last impression is that horrible airport in Kalibo.

In our social media crazy world, negative experiences spread like wildfire. Soon, we would have lost all the benefits of an outstanding marketing campaign. Indeed, one way of stunting the growth of Philippine tourism is a bad experience in our airports.

I know Tourism Sec Mon Jimenez sees the bright side of congested airports: we are getting more visitors. But come on, Mon, unless you can get Sec. Jun Abaya to fast track these key airports, you are wasting your time.

The hard truth is, we are simply not ready for tourism prime time. CAAP’s John Andrews told ABS-CBN: “Changes are being done... but maybe its pace is too slow [that] it’s not keeping up with the growth of the airline industry.”

In the meantime, manage the bad airports better so there is a chance it can be more fun in the Philippines.

Foreign investments

DTI Sec. Greg Domingo sent me his reaction to my Monday column that touched on FDIs.

I read your column today regarding your statement on low investments in the country and I would like to share with you some information that hopefully can soften your stance.

From my experience as DTI Secretary and a former head of BOI and from the people in our investor servicing groups who have experienced investor inflows for more than a decade, we have not seen this high level of new investment activity as now and have never been busier. And the investment activity is broad based, large scale and many with big global brand names such as Coke, Nestle (coffee creamer), Brother (printers), Canon (printers), Fujifilm (high performance lenses), Bandai (toys), IBM (IT/BPM) Accenture (IT/BPM), ConvergOYS (call center/BPM), Shimano (bicycle parts) and many more.

The demand for factory space has been so big that many of the biggest industrial parks in the Laguna-Batangas corridor have run out of space and are now aggressively looking for expansion space.

If you look at the breakdown of our strong GDP numbers, the industry sector surpassed the services sector in terms of growth in the 4th quarter of 2012 and 1st quarter of 2013. Manufacturing grew by a whopping 9.7 percent in 1Q 2013. Services continued to grow at a high rate of seven percent or more. All these would not have been possible without massive investments.

IPAs (Investment Promotions Agencies including PEZA, BOI, Clark, Subic, etc) experienced all time records highs in total registered investments in 2011 and 2012, $17.2 billion and $16.5 billion, respectively, compared to $6.6 billion and $12.0 billion for 2009 and 2010, respectively. Of those figures, the amount of IPA registered investments from foreign companies totaled $5.9 billion and $6.8 billion in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Please note that 98 percent of PEZA registrations are realized while the rest experience a realization rate in excess of 80 percent.

Outside IPAs, foreign companies have been investing as well in a big way. These companies primarily serve the domestic market. We have a partial list of these companies.

FDIs have started to rise significantly as well and have a chance of exceeding $4 billion this year based on the results of the first four months – still below where we want it but multiples of where we started three years ago.

FDI: 2009 $1.96 billion, 2010 $1.29 billion, 2011 $1.81 billion, 2012 $2.79 billion.

The apparent disconnect between FDI and realized IPA registered plus non-registered foreign investments may be better explained by early September when we get the results of an analysis DTI is undertaking of the financial statements of the top 1000 foreign owned companies in the Philippines.

Tourist

Speaking of tourists, what do you call someone in Congress who is honest, ethical, intellectual, law abiding, and truthful?

A tourist.

Sam Miguel
08-15-2013, 09:49 AM
‘Longest bridge’ to be opened

By Delon Porcalla

(The Philippine Star) | Updated August 15, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Spanning five administrations, the P191.3-million Aluling bridge will finally be opened to motorists traversing Ilocos Sur.

Conceptualized in 1978, the bridge took 35 years to finish.

President Aquino, who described the bridge in his July 22 State of the Nation Address as the country’s “longest bridge” in terms of completion, will inaugurate the viaduct that will facilitate business in the Ilocos Region and the Cordillera Administrative Region.

“We have the Aluling Bridge in Ilocos Sur; 1978 was the year in which the plans for its construction were first laid down on paper. And we made certain that our successors would not merely inherit sheets of paper,” he said, proudly.

The 180-meter Aluling bridge is expected to cut the one hour travel time from Cervantes, Ilocos Sur to Tandian, Mountain Province by half and residents would no longer have to cross the Abra river, which is very dangerous during rainy season. Cervantes town is dubbed as the summer capital of Ilocos Sur due to its cool climate.

Tourism attractions in the area include Bessang Natural Landmark, Gambang Falls, Yamashita Cave and Municipal Tree Park.

The Department of Public Works and Highways under Secretary Rogelio Singson finished the bridge on March 25. The bridge project was conceptualized in 1978 under the Marcos administration but the structure was damaged by flooding in 1990.

The government “restarted” the project in 1999, or during the time of deposed President Joseph Estrada, when there was also a plan to construct the bridge on another portion of the Abra river.

Aquino and Singson will conduct today the inaugural drive-through on the Aluling bridge. The President will also unveil a project marker.

The Presidential Communications Operations Office said the actual construction period of the bridge was delayed and took about 14 years from February 1999 to March 2013 due to several factors.

Among them were additional works that had to be undertaken to transport equipment, unpredictable weather conditions, difficulties encountered in bored pilling and unforeseen events such as a vehicular accident in 2004 that terminated contract of Phase II, and typhoons and flooding that washed away girders.

Sam Miguel
08-28-2013, 09:58 AM
Taal’s 19th-century house: History made interesting

Built by the family that helped finance the Philippine Revolution, it survives to this day and helps draw tourists to this heritage town in Batangas

By Marge C. Enriquez

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:22 am | Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

In the early 1870s, the wedding of Don Eulalio Villavicencio and his niece Gliceria Marella was likened to the merger of two big corporations. Both hailed from Taal’s wealthiest families, with businesses in shipping and sugar.

In the 19th century, Batangas sugar was considered one of the best in the country. At the end of the milling season, boats came loaded with money in sacks.

People would bring the sacks to the house and lay them out on a mat. It would take them two weeks to count the money and roll them up. Whoever came to the house was asked to help out.

“The rich didn’t have to work,” says Martin Tinio, co-author of the coffee-table book “Philippine Ancestral Houses.” “There were fiestas every month in every town. The well-to-do attended nine-day novenas, went to picnics, danced, rested. That was the life of the haciendero.”

Don Eulalio’s family lived in a house that was built in the 1850s.

Financing the Revolution

For his young bride, he built a house next door which was connected to his parents’ house by a bridgeway. Built in 1872, the new house was called Casa Regalo de Boda or the Wedding Gift House—which has now been restored by Tinio.

The Villavicencios are mentioned in history books for having helped finance the Philippine Revolution. Don Eulalio even went to Hong Kong to give José Rizal P18,000 for his propaganda literature.

He came back with banned publications and was later charged with sedition. He fell ill at Fort Santiago where he was imprisoned.

A famous account says the Spaniards offered to release Don Eulalio in exchange for information about the Katipunan. His wife, Doña Gliceria, it is said, refused, saying that she carried his surname and didn’t want to betray him and his cause.

After two years, Don Eulalio was released. But his condition worsened since he had contracted tuberculosis. He died at home after three months.

His death motivated Doña Gliceria to support the Katipunan. Not only did she give monetary aid, she also used the older

Villavicencio house as meeting place of Andres Bonifacio and Gen. Miguel Malvar. She donated a ship which transported soldiers, armament and food between Batangas and Manila.

During the proclamation of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo bestowed on her the title “Matriarch of the Revolutionary Forces.”

She died in 1929 at age 77.

Five lots

The Wedding Gift House, says Tinio, “is the only house I know which is composed of five lots—one garden for one house, and another garden for the other house. These houses were linked by a bridge. The garden had a fountain with giant clamshells.”

Wedding Gift House living room with trompe l’oeil of marble and fleur-de-lis patterns.

Tinio notes that in that era in the Philippines, the Wedding Gift House was the only one with window grills on the second floor that had a bloated silhouette called “rehas na buntis.” The balconies were also shaped like a squash.

A sign of wealth was the variety of colors and patterns. The facade stood out for its yellow ochre and indigo tones. When one looked at the stenciled patterns dominating the interiors, one could only imagine the enormous amount of paint used. But that didn’t matter to the wealthy owners.

The ground floor, or entresuelo, featured patterned tiles from Spain. When the house was renovated six years ago, the tiles were reproduced by Mariwasa.

The tindalo staircase led to the caida or antesala, the transition space to the living room. It was called caida, which meant “to drop,” because when women climbed the stairs, they had to hold up their skirts and dropped them only upon reaching the caida.

Floral patterns

In renovating the house, Tinio derived the curlicues and floral patterns for the stenciled walls from a pattern book published in the 1870s. In some parts of the house, the patterns were inspired by an old church and convent.

The caida now has Art Nouveau furniture with carved faces by sculptor and decorator Emilio Alvero. It is also decked with sillas Americanas, or American chairs.

At the turn of the 20th century, these chairs were assembled in the same way the Ikea chair is put together today. The sillas Americanas were considered the Monobloc chairs of their time, given their ubiquitous presence, says Tinio.

For the comedor, or formal dining room, Tinio had the narra chairs drawn from the turn-of-the-20th-century designs of sculptor Isabelo Tampinco. “The carvings of cashews, bananas and guavas on the crests were appropriate for this room,” he says.

In the old days, mirrors were imported from Vienna, which held the monopoly of the glass industry.

Today, the repros of Viennese mirrors are eye-stoppers and make the expansive living room feel more intimate.

Pantry

These big homes had a dispensa, or pantry. “If you were rich, you didn’t shop. When the shipment arrived, you would get the first choice before the goods were displayed in the shops. There was a selection of wines, chorizos, turrones, walnuts, jamon. These foods were locked up in the dispensa,” says Tinio.

When the Wedding Gift House was renovated into a bed-and-breakfast place, the dispensa was turned into a bathroom.

The Casa Villavicencio is just as interesting with its own status-symbol possessions. It is furnished with the tumba-tumba, the Philippine rocking chair, which is bigger than its American predecessor.

A capilla, or long bench, is a staple item in the caida. A Waterford chandelier with its lead crystals still dominate the living room.

Cutwork transoms with capiz and gold leaf adorn the bedrooms.

A trapdoor in the comedor once led to the basement where the Katipuneros held their secret meetings.

For their sense of nostalgia, history and interesting vintage interiors, Casa Villavicencio and the Wedding Gift House have become, understandably, top tourist draws in Taal, itself a well-preserved heritage town.

Sam Miguel
10-16-2013, 08:56 AM
Devotees weep as Philippines loses Church treasures

Agence France-Presse

9:30 pm | Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Devotees wept after a deadly earthquake Tuesday rocked the birthplace of Catholicism in the Philippines, badly damaging the country’s oldest church and leaving other historic places of worship in ruins.

Ten churches, some of which have crucial links to the earliest moments of the Spanish colonial and Catholic conquest in the 1500s, were damaged as the 7.2-magnitude quake struck the central islands of Cebu and Bohol.

“It is like part of the body of our country has been destroyed,” Michael Charleston “Xiao” Chua, a history lecturer at De La Salle University in Manila, told AFP.

He said the damage was particularly painful because the Philippines had already lost so many of its cultural treasures to war, typhoons, earthquakes and poverty-driven neglect.

In Cebu, shocked devotees said prayers as they gathered in front of the Basilica Minore de Santo Niño (Basilica of the Child Jesus), the oldest church in the Philippines and home to one of the country’s most important religious icons.

The limestone bell tower of the church, the latest version of which was built in 1735, was destroyed in the quake.

“I wanted to seek sanctuary here but it turns out the church was damaged,” Fraulein Muntag, 32, a mother of two, told AFP as she wept and prayed the rosary at the site.

Vigil at damaged home of Catholicism

Muntag was among 100 people who had gathered amid aftershocks around the damaged belfry in the late afternoon, with candles lit in vigil.

Cebu is regarded as the birthplace of Catholicism in the Philippines because it was there that Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, sailing for Spain, arrived in 1521.

He converted a friendly local chief and his wife to Catholicism, making them the first Christian Filipinos. To mark their conversion, he gave them a statue of the infant Jesus.

The statue is kept in the Basilica and the people of Cebu, whose patron saint is the infant Jesus, continue to venerate the icon.

The Spaniards went on to rule the Philippines until the late 1800s, and the country became majority Catholic over that time.

A guard stands beside the ruins of Basilica Minore del Santo Nino bell tower following a 7.1-magnitude quake in Cebu. AFP

The Philippines has since remained the Church’s most important outpost in Asia, with Catholics making up nearly 80 percent of the country’s 100 million people.

Another two popular churches in Cebu, built in 1860 and 1909, were damaged on Tuesday.

On neighboring Bohol island, seven churches dating back centuries and also holding huge importance for Catholics were in tatters.

The ceiling of the Our Lady of the Assumption church, built in the 1800s and reputed to have a well which gives miraculous water, was caved in.

The facade and bell tower of the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, which dates back to the 1700s, had crumbled.

It was built from stones of coral, quarried from the sea and reputedly plastered together using the white of a million eggs, according to historical records.

And the 17th-Century San Pedro church, known for its ornately painted ceiling, was entirely caved in, as if a giant fist had punched it from above.

The quake killed at least 93 people, according to authorities. However there were no reports of casualties inside the churches as they were mostly empty when the tremor hit in the morning of a public holiday.

The National Commission on Culture and the Arts issued a statement declaring they would “rescue and later, rehabilitate, damaged heritage structures,” particularly the churches.

“(But) the psychological and emotional damage is very substantial. It seems to be the more difficult thing to repair,” Maris Diokno, a commission member and head of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, told AFP.

Chua also noted that while the structures might be restored, the beautiful frescoes, murals and decorations that once covered many of the church walls and ceilings were gone forever, Chua said.

“What is truly lost are the paintings. The paintings can never be recovered,” he said.

abcdef
10-16-2013, 11:08 AM
Except for banks. Any suggestions for the safest money exchange place in Manila? Thank you!

Sam Miguel
10-22-2013, 10:13 AM
^^^ Any of the more widely spread money changers (like Czarina's) all over the Makati CBD would be good, rates are very competitive, unless you want to make the trip all the way to Ermita, where the top rates prevail.

Sam Miguel
10-22-2013, 10:14 AM
Experts: Too costly to restore churches

By Helen Flores

(The Philippine Star) | Updated October 22, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Spanish cultural preservation experts said yesterday it is more expensive to restore centuries-old churches damaged by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Bohol and Cebu last week than to build new ones.

“It is very difficult to preserve severely damaged churches. It is also cheaper to reconstruct (than to conserve the prior structures),” Juan Antonio Herraez, head of the Preventive Preservation Section of the Research and Training Division of the Institute of Cultural Heritage of Spain, told The STAR.

A number of churches destroyed by the quake in Bohol and Cebu were national cultural treasures.

Herraez said preventive conservation of national heritage like old churches is important to protect them from possible damage during natural disasters.

He said there should be an identification of valuable materials inside the structures as well as safe place where these can be transferred during a disaster.

Herraez said experts must also ensure the integrity of the old structures during earthquakes and other natural hazards.

“Experts must use the best materials to support the old structures so these can withstand strong earthquakes,” he said.

The embassy of Spain in Manila is hosting a five-day seminar workshop on preventive conservation and architecture in museums exposed to tropical and subtropical climates at the San Agustin Museum in Intramuros, Manila.

Victor Cageao, head of the division for Infrastructures of the Subdirectorate General of State Museums in Spain, said there are various factors that must be considered in preserving artifacts, including humidity, and temperature.

The Spanish embassy had earlier said it was exploring ways to help rehabilitate churches damaged or destroyed by the quake.

A task force led by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts submitted to President Aquino yesterday its preliminary report on damaged churches.

The report contained recommendations and costs of rehabilitation of the centuries-old structures, an official the National Museum, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

“The rehabilitation/restoration of all damaged churches may last up to three years,” the source said.

Six of the damaged churches in Bohol considered as national cultural treasures are in Loboc, Baclayon, Loon, Dauis, Maribojoc and Dimiao.

The National Museum was set to declare two churches – Loay and Cortes – as national cultural treasures before the earthquake.

Also damaged were Spanish-era watchtowers in Punta Cruz, Panglao, and Balihan that had been declared national cultural treasures.

Sam Miguel
10-30-2013, 07:54 AM
That’s the spirit

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:26 pm | Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

“The Great Wall of Bohol” is how the phenomenon that appeared in the wake of the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the province is now being called. Such was the power of the Oct. 15 temblor that it forced up a 3-meter-high rock wall and produced a big gash in the land that now runs through some of the most bucolic farmlands and woods on the island. It’s a remarkable sight illustrating the geological violence that occurs during an earthquake, and Boholanos were quick to spot an opportunity when a number of tourists began asking to see the fault line. These days, Barangay (village) Anonang, which hosts a portion of the fissure, carries a sign that says: “This way to the fault line.” And visitors are streaming in.

Bohol may have been devastated by the quake, but it’s clear that it hasn’t lost its entrepreneurial bent for tourism. Before the quake, the province had enjoyed a reputation as a national trailblazer in turning its myriad attractions—from pristine beaches to the rare tarsier, from the Chocolate Hills to centuries-old churches—into an innovative tourist experience that integrated leisure, adventure, history and heritage. Like Bali, Bohol was an enchanted island that had it all, and hordes of local and foreign visitors have heeded its siren call. This year, some 2,770 Japanese tourists and 10,932 Koreans visited Bohol from January to June—a 14-percent increase from the same period last year.

Prospective visitors will be happy to know that the popular Loboc River Cruise, the flagship tourist attraction in the town that also hosts a world-renowned children’s choir and a historic church that dates back to 1734, has resumed operations, a mere two weeks after the quake and after the damaged docking piers were quickly repaired. Loboc’s San Pedro Apostol Church, however, said to be the second oldest such structure on the island, suffered massive damage—a toppled façade, its intricately decorated ceiling turned to rubble, half its bell tower shorn—that would take years and enormous resources to rehabilitate. It was among six churches designated as national cultural treasures—aside from Loboc, those in Baclayon, Loon, Dauis, Maribojoc and Dimiao—that either sustained heavy damage or, as in the case of Loon’s circa-1850 Church of Our Lady of Light, were completely destroyed.

In all, six Bohol churches were pulverized and 17 others were badly shaken. Fr. Milan Ted Torralba, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Committee for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, estimates the rehabilitation cost for the Bohol churches, not counting those likewise affected in neighboring Cebu, to reach at least P100 million.

Raising all that money and directing it to the restoration of religious edifices, no matter their historic and cultural import, will take time and a careful calibration of political realities. Right now, much of the rehabilitation effort is aimed at providing immediate relief to some 380,000 people displaced by the disaster. Damage to infrastructure is also significant—some 12,102 houses now uninhabitable, 55,846 partially damaged and 38,342 partially affected. With aftershocks still ongoing, that tally may still rise.

Bohol will be unable to resuscitate its tourism industry without adequate and safe infrastructure. But it is refusing to yield to paralysis and confusion. The initiative to turn the island’s fault line into a tourist sight—to mine opportunity in disaster, in effect—has the blessings of the local government. “Bohol’s attractions have not diminished but added,” said Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto. “[It] still captures tourist interest with its so many other points… People would like to see what happened to these churches after the earthquake.”

And so the ruins and the fault line will now be part of the Bohol tourism product, he said. The famed Chocolate Hills, too, will now have the added attraction of a mound or two split open by the quake, revealing the limestone core. The new tourism activity even has a proposed name this early: the Geo-Science tour of Bohol. Said the governor: “Bohol will be a good learning center for culture, arts, heritage, environment and geology.”

That’s the spirit. But the Boholanos’ resilience and indomitability in the face of disaster cannot stand alone. Now is the time for everyone to put their money where their mouths and social media hashtags are, and make an effort to back the province in its efforts to get back on its feet. The mantra of the season should be “Visit Bohol.”

Sam Miguel
11-05-2013, 10:53 AM
Diniwid beach: The quiet side of Boracay

by Niña Terol-Zialcita

Posted on 11/03/2013 3:51 PM | Updated 11/03/2013 6:03 PM

MANILA, Philippines – I kicked off my flip-flops and dug my feet into the cool, soft sand. It was the first sunny morning in a week of stormy skies and sudden rainshowers, and I wanted to make the most of it. I sipped the warm, sweet taho that I bought from a roving vendor, then I settled my glass snugly into the sand before finding my own sweet spot.

In front of me, the high tide was carrying strong waves in a sea of teal and blue. From a distance, I could spy a woman running toward the sea with her dog; in another direction, there were two little boys hopping and crawling on the sand. There seemed to be only a handful of people around me—I was in Boracay Island, yes, yet there were no beach-going throngs, no ugly windbreakers blocking the view, no jarring sounds.

This is how it is in Diniwid Beach, White Beach’s quiet, unassuming “little cousin.”

Seaside luxuries

Diniwid Beach is located right next to Boracay’s famed White Beach. It’s a 15-minute walk (through a semi-hidden, cliffside trail) from the upscale Station 1, and around a 20-minute, Php100 (“special”) tricycle ride from D’Mall in Station 2, the heart of Boracay’s action.

Despite its proximity to White Beach, however, there is none of the heady, hedonistic vibe that has come to define partying in Boracay. At Diniwid, there is only peace, serenity, and quiet seaside pleasures.

One such luxury is dining with champagne, fronting the best view in the island. That can be enjoyed from Nami Restaurant, named of the best restaurants in Boracay (2013) by Philippine Tatler. A quick trip up a rustic but cleverly designed bamboo elevator gives one a great vantage point that seems to be unique to this spot. From our table that morning, we could see a wide expanse of blues and greens, punctuated by the bobbing of Hobie cats taking advantage of the summery weather.

We chose a Filipino “Champagne brunch,” which for only Php650 gave us a generous serving of tapa, tocino, longganisa, boneless bangus, and rice, served with a glass of champagne and followed by fresh seasonal fruits and coffee or TWG tea. It was the perfect punctuation to a week filled with deadlines, policy work, and heavy rains.

At that point, for me, nothing else mattered but the slow, sweet savoring of flavors and sensations.

Secret hideaway

Another indulgent treat that we were surprised to discover near Diniwid Beach is a small, private “villa” that we found through AirBnb. Dubbed “Tahanan”, the Asian-inspired bungalow features a spacious split-level studio tucked within a forest-garden (on top of a hill!). Rented for only less than Php2,500 per night, Tahanan gave us the luxury of a true home away from home without the hefty price tag.

All told, this Boracay trip was defined by small luxuries, quiet pleasures, and—I must admit—smart spending. We scrimped on all the White Beach action and shopping in order to get the vacation we really needed; and at the end of the day, we were reminded of the priceless things that truly mattered to us.

If there is anything that Diniwid Beach taught me this trip, it’s that you don’t really need much in order to enjoy Boracay—only the mindset and the spirit that you pack along with you. – Rappler.com

Sam Miguel
11-05-2013, 10:57 AM
Amanpulo, Visayas Islands among the best of Conde Nast

by Niña Terol-Zialcita

Posted on 11/04/2013 4:56 PM | Updated 11/04/2013 6:59 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Amanpulo, the ultra-exclusive resort located in Pamalican Island in the Sulu Sea, has once again made it to Condé Nast Traveller’s list of Top 100 resorts, hotels and spas in the Readers’ Travel Awards 2013.

The resort was cited among the Top 20 in the Asia & India category, with a numeric rating of 77.88 over 100.

Amanpulo is the only Philippine resort to make it to this year’s Top 100.

According to Condé Nast Traveller, “[Readers] were asked to rate [their] choices according to various criteria, such as service, culture and value for money. From [the] responses, we calculated the average mark on each criterion, and used this to provide the overall satisfaction percentage figure…”

Condé Nast Traveller is one of the world’s leading travel publications, known for its independence and integrity in reviewing travel and hospitality establishments. The poll for the 2013 Readers’ Travel Awards was participated in by 80,000 jetsetters, who cumulatively cast over 1.3 million votes.

Island of peace

Named after the Sanskrit word aman (“peace”) and the Filipino word sulo (“island”), Amanpulo is among the Philippines’ most exclusive resorts and is known to be a hideaway for the rich and famous, including Hollywood celebrities.

Nestled within 89 hectares of lush greenery in Pamalican Island, among the Cuyo Islands between the provinces of Palawan and Panay, Amanpulo has around only 40 beachside, hillside and treetop casitas — each tucked within lush, tropical foliage and designed with the Filipino bahay kubo (nipa hut) as inspiration.

The resort’s design ensures the privacy of its high-flying guests. Here, one moves around via golf carts, and guests are prohibited from taking photos of those outside of their party.

A wide range of activities are available for guests to enjoy, including kayaking, diving, water sports, yoga, spa services and even “detox retreats.” Staff have also shared stories of some memorable wedding proposals that have taken place at the resort with their assistance.

According to the Amanpulo website, the resort has been winning awards since 2007.

'Cebu and Visayan Islands' among Top 5 in Asia

Another set of awards in Condé Nast Traveller’s roster is the Readers’ Choice Awards for Top 5 Islands in Asia. Here, “Cebu and Visayan Islands” ranked in the Top 3, garnering a Readers’ Choice Rating of 80.4 over 100. “Friendliness” was rated at 88.8, “scenery” at 86.0 and “beaches” at 83.5.

One reader was quoted as saying, “In all my years of traveling, Cebu is my No. 1 choice!” Another one said, “It is probably the best island city on the universe.”

At a time when Cebu is still reeling from the devastation wrought by the recent Central Visayas earthquake, this is certainly welcome news. One can only hope that the support of friends and fans from all over the world will be enough to help get Cebu and its world-famous tourist spots back on their feet. - Rappler.com

Sam Miguel
11-26-2013, 10:50 AM
Fighting to preserve heritage in Santa Ana, Manila

by Katerina Francisco

Posted on 11/23/2013 7:43 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The old Kingdom of Namayan once stood here. Before the Spanish conquistadors arrived, this was the kingdom that ruled over what is now Mandaluyong, Makati, Pasay, and the Manila districts of Pandacan and Paco.

During the Spanish period, this could have been Manila’s Forbes Park. The home of landed Manileños and prominent personalities, wealthy families built grand houses near the Pasig River, attracted by the cool breeze and the proximity to what was once the main artery for travel.

This is Santa Ana, Manila, one of the capital’s historically and culturally rich areas. It has been at the center of history: when Manila was bombed during World War II, it was in Santa Ana where civilians sought refuge. When the Americans came, it was the bells of Santa Ana church – bells that the Japanese had ordered silent for 7 months – that heralded the good news.

Centuries later, the quiet, old world suburb feel has been overrun by noise. Jeepneys roar past McDonald’s and Jollibee – prominent signs that modernity has arrived. In a place steeped in history, it’s hard to spot glimpses of the past: blink and you’ll miss it. But a group of local residents with a deeply-rooted love for Santa Ana is fighting to preserve its glory days, and their strategy aims to involve the community in heritage-driven tourism.

‘Restore dignity of Santa Ana’

Sylvia Lichauco is a descendant of the late former Philippine ambassador Marcial Lichauco. In 2010, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines declared her family’s home, the Lichauco House, a heritage house. The sprawling property not only reflects the style of Spanish-era mansions, it has historical significance too; this house by the Pasig River used to be a safe haven for hundreds of sick and wounded refugees displaced by the war.

For decades, Sylvia’s mother Jessie lived in this house, watching Santa Ana transform from one decade to the next. It was not until the neighboring Columban Fathers’ House was demolished that she got her daughter involved in heritage conservation.

Sylvia recalls seeing her mother cry. The priests’ house was being torn down for a supermarket, Sylvia's mother wept, and appealed to her: “Help bring back some of the dignity of Santa Ana.”

Heritage for the people, by the people

For many historic places, modernity brings with it the threat of eroding cultural treasures. But a group of Santa Ana residents is determined not to lose the last holdouts of the past. For them, cultural preservation does not mean stifling commercial activity. There’s an ideal meeting point between the two – a way to preserve a community’s cultural treasures while promoting economic growth.

Fundacion Santiago executive director Chaco Molina is pushing for a strategy that can preserve heritage and promote livelihood. It’s called community-based heritage tourism (CBHT), a strategy that involves adaptive reuse and the conservation of cultural assets. By working on the sustainable care of their shared heritage, residents can find ways to boost their livelihood too.

It’s an ideal set-up for the community: heritage is preserved, awareness is promoted, and economic activity is stimulated. Walking tours, for instance, generate job opportunities – but for this to work, heritage houses need to be preserved. Sylvia also wants to put up exhibits and establish a museum that highlights Santa Ana’s cultural treasures and draw in tourists.

Sylvia understands the challenge of getting people on board. Most of those who grew up in Santa and remember its glory days are the most active. But a large part of the population, Sylvia says, are informal settlers who may not have that sense of "pride of place."

Heritage preservation, she adds, would be the last thing on your mind if you’ve got an empty stomach.

To solve this, she and her group of heritage advocates conduct workshops, medical missions, and feeding programs to help their community. The goal is to help people understand that their quality of life could improve by working together and doing their part to preserve heritage that could drive new means of livelihood.

Identity through the arts

Sylvia is also pushing for a unique approach to heritage conservation: use Santa Ana’s performing and visual artists to help popularize CBHT. For heritage conservation to draw in the youth, it has to be made appealing first.

“We plan to use performance art to foster cultural identity,” Sylvia says. Traditional learning methods are not working, she adds. Lectures simply enter one ear and go out the other. Sylvia says what’s worked, so far, are creative ways to tell the stories. For one semester, her group worked with students from the University of the Philippines to create child-friendly stories that tell the history of Santa Ana.

There’s many more that could be tapped: talented residents could perform songs and dances for festivals and celebrations. Puppet shows could be used to tell heritage stories for the young. The goal is to get the youth onboard, to instill pride that their icons and heroes all hail from Santa Ana.

Future forward

The Santa Ana group has achieved important success by getting parts of the district declared a heritage zone through a city council resolution in 2011. It’s also been tapped by the Department of Tourism as a priority zone in the next 5 years.

But there’s still a lot of work to be done. Sylvia rattles off a laundry list of plans – many ambitious, all of them promising – but the stark reality is that these will face difficulties. Aside from the obvious problem of funding, politics can also get in the way.

“Sustaining the community’s interest is difficult whenever momentum slows down due to forces outside of our control. And when national cultural government agencies and local government can’t communicate with each other effectively, a great deal of momentum is lost,” she says.

To make Santa Ana tourist-friendly, major overhauls in the environment and waste management need to be done as well, something the Santa Ana group cannot do on its own. It took 20 years and political will for Vigan to be promoted as a heritage tourism site, Sylvia says, and their initiative in Santa Ana has just begun.

The challenges are great, but Sylvia remains optimistic. Many historical places have attempted to do what she now wants to do in Santa Ana and succeeded. It will take time, she says, but it remains doable.

“Wherever the heritage conservation spirit is alive and well," she says, "it was not achieved without an inspired leader or leaders and a great deal of effort.” – Rappler.com

SANTA ANA CHURCH. The Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned was found to have pre-Hispanic pottery buried under it. Photo from http://santaanachurchmanila.com/

Sam Miguel
03-12-2014, 11:05 AM
Puerto Galera faces huge task of rebranding

By Camille Diola

(philstar.com) | Updated March 12, 2014 - 12:00am

PUERTO GALERA, Philippines — White sand beaches, clear blue waters, rich reefs for diving, a 10-minute drive to lush mountains, an alluring waterfall and various available accommodations should make this municipality among the country's top tourism spots, but it has not yet been so.

Local residents and businesses in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro are mainly sustained by the 200,000 foreign and domestic tourists every year--a mere fraction of Boracay's 1.2 million visitors.

Mayor Hubbert Dolor admits that the picturesque coastal town deserves more than to be known primarily for its rowdy, booming nightlife.

"We need... promotions," Dolor said in an interview with Philstar.com. "Ninety-five percent of our industry is anchored on tourism. We cannot afford to lose our tourists."

Tagged in 2005 as one of the most beautiful bays in the world by Paris-based Les Plus Belles Baies Du Monde club and its Verde Island Passage designated a biosphere reserve of UNESCO, Puerto Galera is not short of distinctions.

With those rare honors in mind, Dolor dreams that the ambitious tagline he attached to Galera would catch on.

"Puerto Galera, the heart of Asia ... I'm really dreaming and I would like Puerto Galera to be among the top destinations in the country. When I say top, I mean top, following global standards," he said.

Governor Alfonso Umali regrets that Boracay has surpassed the landlocked coves in terms of popularity and income when it is nearer to the capital. His government is likewise seated in Puerto Galera.

"Kami, proximity-wise, one hour [lang] from Batangas. Yung P10,000 mo, you spend it only for one day in Boracay. Dito, for one family na 'yon," Umali said in a separate interview with Philstar.com.

"For so long a time, nakalimutan 'ata yung Mindoro sa mapa ng turismo," he added.

Dolor and Umali, however, have reasons to hope. In recent years, Galera saw a new influx of tourists ushered in by the Malasimbo Arts and Music Festival held at the foothills of Mt. Malasimbo and overlooking the bay.

"Puerto Galera is again being put into the world map of tourism industry, that is why we are supporting this festival," Dolor said.

He explained how the five-day party featuring a unique lineup of local and international artists from the world of reggae, soul and world music has made Galera known not only for its beaches but for its natural features "above the waters."

Umali similarly hailed Frenchman Hubert d'Aboville (whom he called a "super man") and his family for having initiated the giant project of Malasimbo to help rebrand the island.

Besides Malasimbo, Dolor raves about another project to promote local tourism: Summerscape, a three-month series of events that centers around the bays and beaches.

"If you want to get relaxed, if you want to get away from the traffic or city life, then you go to Puerto Galera, you do some escaping," he said.

Joescoundrel
04-15-2014, 10:02 AM
Tourism booster

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:13 am | Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

After six years of waiting, the Philippines was upgraded to Category-1 status by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), meaning Philippine carriers may now expand their operations in the United States and, eventually, boost tourism and businesses between the two countries. The announcement, first made on Twitter by US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, came as a surprise as it had been expected to be made by US President Barack Obama during his state visit later this month.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines is obviously the main direct beneficiary as it already flies to the United States but is restricted to the West Coast. Apart from adding new routes to the East Coast, the upgrade gives PAL leeway to replace its aging aircraft with newer, fuel-efficient planes like the Boeing 777s, allowing it to save some $160 million in operating costs a year. Budget carrier Cebu Pacific will also benefit in the future when it implements plans to mount flights to US destinations like Hawaii.

The FAA downgraded the Philippines to Category 2 in 2008, saying the country “lacked laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards.” In a statement last week, the FAA said the restoration of the Philippines to Category-1 status was based on a March review of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), whose current leadership also helped the country exit a European blacklist in July 2013 following its compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao) standards.

The Department of Transportation and Communications was, of course, quite pleased. “This upgrade cements a landmark era in the Philippine aviation sector. From one major achievement to another in a span of less than two years, the country has made great strides in enhancing its aviation industry to one that is at par with the best in the world,” said Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya. He added that the upgrade would open more direct flights to and from the United States, boosting the Philippines’ tourism industry and improving trade relations between the two countries. The Department of Foreign Affairs also welcomed the FAA announcement and predicted more routes opening for business and tourism travel between the Philippines and the United States, and more opportunities for Philippine and American businessmen.

The downgrading in 2008 spurred stringent inspection of the US operations of PAL and barred the flag carrier from expanding its operations in American states and territories. The ruling affected only PAL because it was the sole local carrier that had operations and the capability to fly across the Pacific. Key reforms followed, which led to the dissolution of the Air Transportation Office and its replacement with the CAAP. In 2010, however, the Philippines suffered another setback when the European Union imposed a ban on Philippine carriers, a year after the Icao found “significant safety concerns” in the country’s aviation standards, particularly on the poor state of regulation. No Philippine carrier, however, had been operating in that region for the past several years.

The Aquino administration deserves commendation for working on improving aviation safety. In April 2011, it enlisted the aid of Brig. Gen. Tim Neel, a former FAA executive. In March 2013, the Philippines passed the Icao assessment, which led to the lifting of the EU ban four months later, or on July 12, and PAL was allowed to operate flights to Europe again. The result was the resumption of PAL’s direct flights between Manila and London late last year. The FAA announcement last week also came hours before the EU announcement that Cebu Pacific would also be allowed to fly into European airspace. Lance Gokongwei, CEO of Cebu Air Inc., had told reporters that the airline planned to make an application to the European Union to fly to the continent in November.

This augurs well for the Philippines, particularly the tourism sector. While the direct beneficiaries are PAL and Cebu Pacific, increased access to and from the Philippines via air transport has the effect of boosting tourist arrivals. Now, if we can only speed up the development of key airports in tourist destinations like Palawan and Bohol, as well as in gateways like Clark in the north and Cebu in the Visayas, Philippine aviation will truly soar.

Joescoundrel
04-22-2014, 11:57 AM
Epiphany

Philippine Daily Inquirer

4:01 am | Sunday, April 20th, 2014

That the Philippines is no slouch in terms of starkly beautiful destinations is hardly a secret, and the Inquirer’s “Getaway” series again proves it.

Since March, amazing destinations have been featured on the front page, places far from the madding crowd but offering just as much as, if not more than, the tried and tested tourist spots. Yes, there is more to see than we think—from the raw beauty of Palaui Island to the picturesque Lake Sebu, from the crystal falls of Panas to unspoiled San Vicente, from the seven islands of Mercedes to the rock formations of Bir

Whether on land (mountains to climb) or sea (dive spots to enjoy), whether rock formations masterfully shaped by the elements or waterfalls delicate as veils or powerful as torrents, the Philippines shows that it has a place among the best of Creation. As is well-known, it has five of the greatest dive spots in the world—Tubbataha, Anilao, Coron, Apo Reef and Apo Island—but there are other places for the discovery of the most enterprising travelers.

Yet these gifts are hardly enjoyed because they are hard to reach or, quite simply, not known. Getting to Palaui, for example, requires a flight to Tuguegarao City followed by a three-hour drive to San Vicente fish port and then by a 30-minute boat ride to the island itself. The remote locations are a mixed blessing: Few have been there but getting there is a chore; some folks like roughing it, but what about those who don’t? There’s no better time than now to begin building the roads and the facilities to welcome visitors.

And the charms of the destinations include being open all year, such as the surfing spot of Dahican in Davao Oriental. “In Dahican, there’s no peak month,” said local environment officer Jose Moring. “All year round is peak season.”

Local tourism can use as big a boost as it can get in terms of promotions, transport, and accommodations (at the very least). With the essentials mastered, the benefits of international tourism will greatly help move the economy toward the elusive goal of inclusive growth.

(Occasionally, foreign visitors stay on, as in the case of Canadian John Ryan who thinks he has found Eden. “A laid-back lifestyle, wonderful people, an island with awesome rock formations, blue seas and a rich marine life. How can you not love that? This is paradise,” Ryan said.)

In San Vicente, Palawan, Mayor Pie Alvarez is convinced of the area’s glittering prospects: “There is no doubt that Long Beach is destined to become a world-class tourist destination… It is one of the longest, if not the longest, white-sand beaches in the Philippines.”

Yet she is mindful of the impact of development in San Vicente; she intends to develop the area “without sacrificing the environment” and to “learn from the best practices of tourism destinations around the world and create our own unique destination.”

These new destinations are positive proof that, as the Department of Tourism continues to claim, “it’s more fun in the Philippines.” The travel industry is still in the process of righting itself after the devastating passage of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” last year.

Speaking for the United Nations World Tourism Organization, secretary general Taleb Rifai has said it was “confident that despite this tragic occurrence, the tourism sector in the Philippines will continue to strive and make a key contribution to the development of the country.” Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez has expressed similar optimism.

With private investors putting their money where their mouth is, these emerging destinations bid fair to be among the Philippines’ hot draws. It’s an opportune time for relevant government agencies, including the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, to pitch in and ensure not only accessibility (roads, seaports, airports) and accommodations (home-stay arrangements involving the locals are a great way to start) but also, and most important, security.

Additionally, the government should mount and maintain a campaign to educate Filipinos on the necessity of preservation and conservation.

Discovering and enjoying our natural treasures would then be the ideal epiphany.

Sam Miguel
11-04-2014, 08:01 AM
Got this from an travel blog - - -

What awaits you in Quezon Province: Untouched, Unspoiled and Unexploited Beaches

Scouring the shores of our beautiful archipelago, you can find several beaches that are still untouched and unexploited, leaving it’s natural beauty to mesmerize you. Now Quezon Province is home to a lot of these kinds of beaches. No frills, no beach vendors, no big establishments, no loud parties at night, but all the most unforgettable memories waiting to be made will be found here.

Here are the most popular unspoiled beaches in Quezon Province:

1. Salibungot Beach

Peace and Serenity– If you are aiming to have the ultimate break from the hurly burly of the city life, go ride a bus going to Real town in Quezon Province and take a boat to Jomalig Island to see the famous golden coast of Salibungot Beach.

Jomalig Island is a remote island municipality of Quezon Province. Salibungot beach is unique for the Agoho Pine Trees that borders the coastline. Contrary to other beaches that offers all those loud and crazy night life, Salibungot beach is far different because you can only hear a couple of birds singing, the calming sound of the waves and the relaxing voice of nature that can soothe any tired soul.

2. Kanaway Island

Now this island is very near Jomalig Island. During low tide, you can go walk to the islets Pulo and Manlanat. This island is the best island to see the sunrise. While in the island, you can enjoy having picnics, eat freshly grilled fish and marinated squid. Getting here is quite challenging though, you need to catch a ride from Manila going to Infanta, Quezon, find Real, (the port that would lead you to Patnanungan) ride a boat going to Patnanungan then switch boat that will go to Jomalig Island in the middle of the ocean (Yes, you read it right, so muster up some courage), then once in Jomalig Island, you need to hire a boat going to the beautiful Kanaway Island.

3. Minasawa Island

Are you in for a Bird watching? If you are, then this is the best place in Quezon where you can do just about that and more. Boasting a great beach forest and a beautiful coastline, Minasawa Island is the place you should be. Located in Burdeos, Quezon, You can get in touch with the wild, go take shots of some avian friends and enjoy the sandy shores at the same time.

4. Alabat Island

Situated in Lamon Bay near Atimonan, Quezon, Alabat Island is a cool place you should get yourself to, its quite, it’s beautiful and it’s just the right place with the right kind of people (People here are very hospitable and friendly, not that this is something new about Filipinos). If you try googling about it, you can barely see pictures of the place, well which you know is a good sign,( it means its unspoiled and non-commercialized —YET!)

5. Cagbalete Island

This island can be found in Mauban, Quezon. Mangroves, Pretty sand patterns (which you will see during low tide), and the rocky pools Bonsai Island are among the prettiest sites that you could see in this beach. Since nothing beats immersing yourself in nature as a way of detoxing yourself from the stress of living in an urban area, then you can walk around the island and enjoy a good trail of adventure.

6. Borawan Beach

As featured in Rappler, Borawan, Dampalitan and Puting Buhangin are all easily accessed through riding a bus ride (after your trip from Manila to Lucena) going to Padre Burgos and asked to be dropped off at Basiao junction. These beaches are located close to each other, that’s why you can go check them all during your stay.

Borawan is also famous as one of the unspoiled beaches in the country. The name is coined after combining the ever famous names of Boracay (because of the white sand) and Palawan (because the place resembles Palawan.)

7. Puting Buhangin

Puting Buhangin (well of course the sand is white, as the name suggests) boasts a cool submerged cave where you can go to fill your thrill-hungry selves.

8. Dampalitan Beach

If you are into sunsets, and bonfires then Dampalitan is the beach for you. This island has a reputation for being a beautiful spot to watch the sun’s light be slowly replaced by the beautiful darkness of the night. This beach is also famous as a camper’s site, which is why most people who wanted to spend the night in Padre Burgos go to.

Joescoundrel
12-14-2014, 08:18 AM
From Inquirer online ___

Victorious Vigan

7:36 AM | Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Vigan in Ilocos Sur evokes images of heritage houses and the sound of hooves on cobblestone streets. It was the Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo who founded it as a trading port in 1572; it would be called Ciudad Fernandina de Bigan, becoming a city in the 18th century. A number of Vigan’s beautiful ancestral houses have survived the centuries, marking it as “the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from China and from Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that have no parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.”

Don’t take our word for it. That’s what’s written on the Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) inscription naming the Historic Town of Vigan a World Heritage Site in 1999. A good balance of preservation and development largely managed by its own population and leaders, it was by then already a popular destination among Filipinos drawn by its old-world charms. And it is becoming more and more known even among foreign travelers.

Now Vigan with its storied past has achieved another recognition: It was voted one of the New7Wonders Cities of the World last week, joining Beirut in Lebanon, Doha in Qatar, Durban in South Africa, Havana in Cuba, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and La Paz in Bolivia. With this victory come international attention, possible infrastructure projects, and likely much tourist business.

In 2011 the New7Wonders Foundation named the Puerto Princesa Underground River in Palawan one of the planet’s New7Wonders of Nature. It has since turned its focus on the world’s manmade wonders, the cities, with 1,200 cities nominated from 220 countries; from this field, Vigan and six other cities were chosen and honored. “For the first time in human history, more than half of our planet’s population lives in cities, and this election emphasizes the dramatically challenging character of our changing world,” read the online statement from Bernard Weber, president of the Switzerland-based nonprofit organization.

Vigan made the 21-city selection last July, then made the cut as one of the 14 finalists last October. In the end, it bested such world-famous destinations as St. Petersburg, Prague, Perth, Phnom Penh and Kyoto with votes coming through the Internet, apps and text messages from around the world.

What a victory this is for Vigan, one that is meaningful on many levels. This latest distinction bids fair to enhance Vigan’s budding reputation as a global tourist destination, as well as to serve as an economic boost to the Ilocos region, and to promote local destinations, goods and services. “It will help us hoteliers because the exposure will bring us more tourists, and our homemade products will be given a bigger market,” says hotel manager Divina Quemi, a leader of a local group of cooperatives.

Then again, it’s yet another reminder for the government to seriously see to the infrastructure necessary to keep up with the distinction—airports (international and local), hotels, bed-and-breakfast enterprises, and also trained guides and personnel. The giants of the cruise ship industry have indicated willingness to help develop the Philippines as a destination, but only with better infrastructure.

In March, Polish tourism executives came to the country wanting to see Vigan and the island getaway of Boracay. New air routes to Manila are being opened, but better airports are clearly required. Roads need to be built, horrendous traffic jams quelled, alternative modes of transport developed, and security improved. Our beaches remain among the world’s best, but need to be maintained. Surely the local populations can be professionally trained for tourism-related employment, including conservation.

So much needs to be done to take advantage of this victory, and certainly it all starts with Vigan itself. The possibilities are breathtaking.

The can-do spirit of the locals ought to show the way. The rest of the country can learn much from and take pride in Vigan’s newest achievement. Vigan Mayor Eva Marie Medina says it best: “This is inspiring. It is a tribute to a people who committed to achieve development and make wonderful things happen in their lives and their community, even radiating beyond boundaries.”

Sam Miguel
12-18-2014, 08:19 AM
First look: The Henry Manila in Pasay is pure charm

By Anson Yu

December 17, 2014 / 09:49 PHT

While Manila struggles with preserving its heritage buildings, Pasay City has scored a major coup with the newly opened Henry Hotel.

Despite the fact that this place is not associated with anyone famous or anything historical — which would earn it the right to be called a heritage site — The Henry Manila is on its way to becoming a shining example as to how adaptive reuse is possible in Metro Manila.

The 32-room boutique hotel occupies five houses built in 1950 inside a large Pasay City compound. The estate was once occupied by the large extended family of a Tsinoy businessman, until he passed away and his descendants decided to move elsewhere.

In 2003, gallerist Albert Avellana moved in to one of the houses and turned it into an art gallery. He was then followed by furniture designer Eric Paras and fashion designer Jojie Lloren, earning the compound a reputation as an art and creative hub.

The buzz surrounding the compound eventually reached Hanky Lee, chairman of Innovoterra Properties. He was looking for a location to set up his first hotel in Manila.

His first hotel property, The Henry Cebu, had already garnered a reputation among travellers as being a creative, stimulating yet comfortable place to stay. Since the first Henry was set up from an existing structure, he wanted something similar for his first property in Manila and the houses within the compound fit the bill.

Even if no one knows who designed the houses, what made the property more appealing to Lee were the gardens. Designed by National Artist for Landscape Architecture Ildelfonso Santos, the work entrances visitors when they walk past the driveway lined with tall acacia tree. The garden is filled with plants that were popular at that time, such as palmeras, santana, lampana and champaca.

Negotiating with the heirs, Hanky Lee picked four of the two-floor wood and concrete houses near the gate for the hotel. He also picked the main house of the Tsinoy businessman to be turned into the dining outlet, meeting and reception areas.

While The Henry Cebu is known for it quirky and artsy interior, Hanky Lee wanted The Henry Manila to be different and go nostalgic in terms of look, but would be equipped with all the creature comforts of the 21st century like WiFi and flat screen TV.

In charge of the conversion project was architect Justin Basco, a graduate of UST School of Architecture, whose prior experience in working with old houses was limited to research work. But he seems to have a clear idea as to how to update an old house without losing its feel.

Case in point is the dining outlet (which will be managed by Marivic Lim of Apartment 1B). To make the room brighter, he took inspiration from the ventenilla, or the sliding door underneath under the window. He took out part of the concrete wall beneath the window and replaced them instead with sampaguita glass or textured glass to allow light to come in.

In keeping with the nostalgic theme, Justin used key design components from 20th-century Manila. The most visible is the grillwork, which were inspired from the now-demolished Scala Theater on Rizal Avenue. Another key design component is the bright and colorrul baldoza floor tiles, which were very much in vogue during that time period.

The nostalgia theme is also found in every room. Basco worked closely with Eric Paras of A-11 for the interior design. They mixed old pieces such as wooden aparadors (aparador) and Ambassadors chair (wood carved armed chairs) with modern furniture and lighting fixtures.

Corporate social responsibility also comes into the picture with trash bins and napkin holders made by the NGO group, Kamay Kraft.

The choice of in-room snacks is also interesting: rosquillos, cashew nuts and dried mangoes.

The toiletry selection also goes local with shampoo and lotion by Frangancia Aromatica and soap supplied by Life Project 4 Youth.

Justin admits that his work was made easy as the houses were in good shape. But still he admits there were challenges such as adding two extra bathrooms per floor so that each room could have its own private bath.

The hotel is still in soft opening, with prices ranging from PHP6,000 for a classic room to P15,000 for the owner's suite. The grand opening is tentatively set for mid-January next year.

The Henry Manila, 2680 FB Harrison St; www.thehenryhotel.com, +63 2 8078888.

Sam Miguel
02-04-2015, 08:18 AM
As Olympics loom, a landmark of Japanese modernism will be torn down

A Japanese hotel from the 1960s is slated for demolition

By Anna Fifield February 2 at 10:05 PM

TOKYO — If Don Draper were going to drink Old Fashioneds in Tokyo, he would definitely drink them in the Orchid Bar of the Hotel Okura. Wood-paneled with lighting as dim as midnight, and smoked-glass ashtrays lined up along the counter, the bar looks like something straight from the set of “Mad Men.”

To get to the bar, he’d have to walk through the defiantly retro lobby, with its olive green carpet and modernist chairs, geometric leaf pattern latticework and stylish “cut gem” pendant lamps.

But the bar, and the main wing of the hotel, renowned among design buffs as the perfect combination of Japanese aesthetics and modernist decor, will be bulldozed this summer, the latest victim of this country’s “tear-down” culture.

The demolition of the Okura also will rob the American Embassy, which is across the street, of a hotel that has been serving as a de facto boarding house and canteen for visiting Americans for decades. So integral is it to the embassy’s operations that diplomats refer to it as “the annex.”

U.S. presidents — including Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton — have been hosted there. When President Obama was in Tokyo last year, where did he stay? At the Okura, of course.

Visit on any day of the week and you can expect to run into an assistant secretary eating the famed French toast in the Orchid Room breakfast restaurant or a special adviser drinking beer in the Orchid Bar.

But the American guest list is not limited to politicians and bureaucrats. Madonna, Michael Jackson and Harrison Ford have stayed there, too.

While Don Draper may not have visited, another fictional *lady-killer did: When James Bond arrived in Tokyo in the 1964 Ian Fleming novel “You Only Live Twice,” he went straight to the Okura.

Come August, the Okura of lore will disappear.

The main wing of the hotel, home to the landmark lobby and renowned meeting places, will be pulled down and a $1 billion, *3 1/2 -year construction project will begin, resulting in two glass towers — one for a five-star hotel, the other for a six-star — being built in time for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games. The south wing, on the next block, will remain open during construction.

The history of the Okura, built on a site where samurai lived in the Edo period, in many ways echoes the history of modern Japan.

It opened in 1962, in time for the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics. That landmark event marked Japan’s revival and return to the international stage following the ignominy of World War II, and it resulted in the construction of other modernist gems, such as the Yoyogi National Gymnasium, with its sweeping roof, and the Nippon Budokan martial arts arena.

The hotel was designed by Yoshiro Taniguchi and Hideo Kosaka, who combined modernist design with traditional Japanese colors and patterns such as the hishi diamond, used in motifs throughout the hotel. Everything was done with the Japanese spirit of “wa,” or harmony, in mind. The chairs and tables in the lobby are spaced to look like five-petaled plum blossoms.

Hiroshi Matsukuma, a professor at Kyoto Institute of Technology and head of Docomomo Japan, a group that tries to safeguard modernist architecture, said the Okura symbolized Japan’s return to international society after the war.

“It was a collaborative work with Japanese traditional aesthetic, artisans’ handwork and the highest-class art made by living national-treasure artists,” Matsukuma said. “You can sense how high people’s aspirations were at that time. The main lobby speaks for itself.”

But with its rooms stuck in 1960s dimensions and only slightly more-recent decor, the Okura has been struggling to hold its own against increasing competition from foreign rivals.

“The facilities are getting old. This hotel was built 53 years ago,” Masaki Ikeda, president of the Okura, said in an interview in one of the hotel’s suites, currently on a “see it while it lasts” special at $4,000 a night (not including tax).

The plumbing is old and the building is not up to the latest earthquake standards, Ikeda said. Some buildings, such as the Kagawa Prefectural Gym designed by renowned architect Kenzo Tange, have had to be closed because the cost of making them compliant with modern earthquake regulations was prohibitive.

“We are going to create something that is even more aesthetically pleasing,” Ikeda said. The main architect for the redesign is Taniguchi’s son.

Still, design enthusiasts have mounted campaigns to stop the Okura’s demolition.

Tomas Maier, creative director of Bottega Veneta, an Italian luxury label, has said it is “crucial to make sure these great buildings are preserved” to pass down Japan’s modernist heritage to future generations. The company has started a #MyMomentAtOkura movement on social media, asking people to share their experiences at the hotel.

Monocle, a design magazine, is running a “Save the Okura” petition.

“Change and construction are features of life in Tokyo and contribute to the city’s thrilling sense of purpose and energy,” the petition reads. “But should they come at the expense of the capital’s history and identity? The greatest world cities — Tokyo among them — are the ones that are rich in texture.”

The Okura’s management reports a steady stream of letters and e-mails pleading for the building to be spared. It has been receiving many inquiries about the furnishings — the lobby lanterns in particular — but has not decided what to do with them.

Japan’s tear-down culture is partly the result of its history of devastating earthquakes and World War II bombing campaigns, neither of which gave the nation any say in the destruction.

But there also could be an inherently Japanese aspect at play. Japan’s renowned Ise Shrine is torn down every 20 years, and an exact replica is built right beside it. This echoes the Shinto belief in the constant death and renewal of all things in nature.

During Japan’s rapid ascent into the ranks of the world’s top economies, bulldozing and building from scratch became the norm, said Hiroyasu Fujioka, professor of architectural history at Tokyo Institute of Technology and an expert on Taniguchi’s architecture. Even now, despite Japan being in its fourth recession in six years, the capital’s skyline is a jumble of cranes.

“Right now, Japan operates as a capitalist society and development is the top priority,” Fujioka said. “Architecture is treated like a commodity and land is just considered a product, so what’s on that land is easily demolished.”

Matsukuma, the champion of Japanese modernism, considers the impending demolition of the Okura emblematic of broader problems in Japan.

“We should think more fondly about architecture and think what’s important to us,” he said. “What will Tokyo look like in 50 years? Our population is declining. The city might be full of empty buildings.”

Yuki Oda contributed to this report.

Sam Miguel
02-04-2015, 08:20 AM
Now that's travelling in style...

http://buzzflare.com/airplane-passengers-were-delighted-when-four-old-men-began-to-sing/

gameface_one
05-17-2015, 07:28 PM
Africa: ‘the next China’ for contemporary art

LAGOS — Giles Peppiatt, from Bonhams in London, had good reason to make the trip to Nigeria’s financial capital, Lagos, for the auction house’s next sale of African art — a glut of potential buyers.

On a recent visit, he described Africa as “one of our hottest properties on the art block.”

“In some ways, Africa is the new China when it comes to art,” he added. “We are investing time, money and people to maintain our presence in this market.”

Bonhams has blazed a trail in the sector, having organized its first “Africa Now” sale of modern and contemporary African art in 2007, which has since become an annual event.

Among its most expensive sales was “Arab Priest” (1945) by South African painter Irma Stern, which was bought by the Qatar Museums Authority for just over three million pounds (4.2 million euros, $4.7 million) in 2011.

“New World Map” (2009) — one of Ghanaian artist El Anatsui’s tapestries embroidered from crushed aluminum bottle tops and copper wire — went for nearly 550,000 pounds the following year.

A series of seven wooden sculptures by Nigeria’s Ben Enwonwu fetched 361.250 pounds — triple the estimate price.



Increasing interest

Leading African artists were virtually absent from art sales just a decade ago but now contemporary works feature strongly in sales at several international auction houses.

Another El Anatsui tapestry sold for $1.4 million at Sotheby’s.

“When institutions such as the Tate (in London) and the Smithsonian (in Washington DC) start to acquire contemporary African art, one then knows something wonderful has occurred,” said Peppiatt.

On the back of successful sales in recent years, Bonhams is specializing even more this year, with a selection of modern art going under the hammer this month and contemporary art in October.

In Africa, the Zinsou foundation’s museum of contemporary African art in Ouidah, Benin, and and the forthcoming opening of the huge Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art in Cape Town, South Africa, are clear signs of the increasing interest of collectors.

Most of the buyers at Bonhams’ “Africa Now” sales are African, explained Peppiatt.

“A lot of collectors are very wealthy Nigerian businessmen,” he added.

Culture and heritage

“Nigerian art collectors want a piece of their own culture and heritage and are prepared to invest in that,” added Bonhams’ representative in Lagos, Neil Coventry.

“What’s fascinating is that these pieces are being found all over the world. In some cases they are coming back to Nigeria where they are valued and appreciated the most.”

Coventry, whose living room walls at his house overlooking the Lagos lagoon are covered with major Nigerian works of art, cites the example of Enwonwu.

The painter and sculptor, who died in 1994, was once as famous a name in Nigeria as Britain, where he was notably the first black African artist commissioned to make a sculpture of Queen Elizabeth II in 1957.

But his name was forgotten and only rediscovered in recent years.

“He was an international artist and Africa’s premier modern artist,” said Coventry.

“Collectors who bought pieces by Enwonwu early in his career are now getting older and those who have inherited works may have no idea of the value of what they have.

“This rediscovery of Ben Enwonwu’s works is amazing.”

Positive image

Ten years ago, Enwonwu’s works sold for several hundred dollars but are now fetching hundreds of thousands at auction.

Nevertheless, said Coventry, his work “is still massively under-valued, which is quite unique for an artist who was so accomplished during his own lifetime”.

Femi Lijadu is one of several art collectors who will make the trip from Lagos to London for the auction on May 20 and has already pinpointed Nigerian works “at affordable prices.”

He will be in the British capital because he is proud of the image the major artists portray of his country.

Lijadu, a corporate lawyer, has some 500 pieces in his collection and remembers the time he began earning a living in the 1980s and buying pictures by the “Grand Masters” of Nigeria.

“At the time we dreamt of the day where the world would finally start to take notice of Nigerian and African art in general,” he remembered with a smile.

Judging by the scale of the auction, that day has arrived.

Joescoundrel
04-13-2018, 08:13 AM
DENR uncovers Mactan, Panglao ‘cesspools’

07:00 AM April 13, 2018

CEBU CITY - Swimming is unsafe in the waters off Mactan Island in Cebu province, and Panglao Island in Bohol province - two of the top tourist destinations in the Visayas - as fecal coliform levels found in seawater exceed the standard set by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

William Cuñado, director of the EMB in Central Visayas, said the bureau’s recent study found that fecal coliform reached 150 to 200 most probable number (MPN) in Panglao and 180 to 250 MPN in Mactan.

The figures exceed the acceptable concentration of 100 MPN per 100 milliliters, which is considered safe for swimming and water sports.

Levels above tolerable standards may lead to illnesses after contact with or ingestion of water.

The contamination may be due to poor or noncompliance with proper wastewater treatment and sewage disposal systems by hotels and resorts that have proliferated in Mactan and Panglao, Cuñado said.

He said more than 300 hotels and resorts in Panglao, crown jewel of Bohol’s tourism, had been issued notices of violation of the Clean Water Act (Republic Act No. 9275).

Boracay shutdown

Notices of violation were sent out to 37 hotels and resorts in Mactan, he added.

Mactan and Panglao join Boracay as among the islands that have been found to have coliform levels unsafe for swimming.

The dumping of sewage into the sea has resulted in regular algal blooms in Boracay, which President Duterte has called a “cesspool.”

The government is closing down Boracay for up to six months starting April 26 so it can be rehabilitated.

El Nido, Puerto Galera

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is also cracking down on commercial establishments in El Nido, Palawan province, and Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro province—tourist destinations also known for their beaches—for violating sewage and sanitation laws.

“On Panglao Island, we will be conducting a forum … on wastewater-treatment facilities for locators in the area to enlighten them about their importance,” Cuñado said.

He said the EMB was also reconciling reports on compliance from the Central Visayas regional offices of the DENR-7, Department of Tourism and local government units (LGUs) before taking action.

Gilbert Gonzales, the DENR regional director, said his office had completed an inventory of the compliance or noncompliance by resorts and hotels in Panglao on shoreline easement, forestland encroachment and intrusion in wetlands.

The inventory in Mactan has not been completed.

Easement zone violators

Some of the establishments that violated the 20-meter easement zone have been issued notices and asked to attend technical conferences to correct the deficiencies.

“After this, we will now demolish structures within the easement zone that we’ve established. Then after the demolition, we will require all establishments to apply the foreshore lease permits and comply with other requirements,” Gonzales said.

Based on the assessments by two teams that inspected the resorts and hotels in Panglao and Mactan, there is no need to close down violators but regular monitoring should be pushed to ensure compliance, he said.

The DENR earlier identified the lack of sewage treatment facilities and “bottomless” septic tanks as contributors to environmental problems in Panglao.

Up to 90 percent of the resorts in Panglao have no wastewater facilities, Panglao Councilor Rogelyn Clemeña-Degoma earlier said.

Cooperate

The Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants Association of Cebu (HRRAC) urged members to cooperate with LGUs and government agencies that were trying to correct environmental violations on Mactan Island.

HRRAC president Carlo Suarez said the group was supporting the move of Lapu-Lapu City to go after establishments that violate shoreline easement regulation and lack sewage discharge permits.

Mayor Paz Radaza of Lapu-Lapu City said on Wednesday that warnings had been sent to several establishments without a sewage discharge permit. - WITH A REPORT FROM JOSE SANTINO BUNACHITA