Thursday, June 28, 2012

ILOCOS NORTE: Budget and Itinerary

SUNDAY: June 24, 2012
Taxi (Buendia - NAIA 3) - 131.00
Terminal Fee (NAIA 3) - 200.00
Airphil Express (Manila - Laoag) - 771.00
Jeep (Laoag International - Downtown) - 75.00
Tricycle (Texicano) - 15.00
Texicano Hotel (1 Night/Fan Room Shared Bath) - 250.00
Dinner (Max's) - 195.00

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

PAOAY: 01 - Haunted by Marcos

I really had no inkling as to what to see in Paoay, which I kept on pronouncing as PA-O-WAY until I got a weird stare from a local retorting with an interrogative, PA-WAY? Fine, have it your way. I only heard about this town lately when news came out that Erich Gonzales and Mauro Maurer shot their Star Cinema film to be released in October here. Damn, why do I have to be so showbiz? Since I am in the region, I thought maybe I would give it a shot, and I am glad I did, because this area seems to be the most well-rounded in the province as a tourist destination thanks to its good mix of history, nature, and adventure.

Monday, June 25, 2012

PAGUDPUD: 02 - Pagudpud North

Pagudpud is what comes to mind when one thinks of beaches way up north. Located at the northern tip of Ilocos Norte (Luzon’s northwest), Pagudpud could be reached by bus in around ten hours depending on the traffic condition and how good everyone’s control of their bladder is. If you do not have the luxury of time, then take a one-hour plane ride from Manila to Laoag, and then a two-hour bus to Pagudpud. All the airport hassles plus that bus ride would still cost you around five hours, but I believe that it is way better than ten hours of slouching.

PAGUDPUD: 01 - Pagudpud Rinnovati

I saw this one on Wikitravel and it got me curious so I decided to have the tricycle bring me here from the town center. First, what I found surprising was the location and how every accommodation option in the area is just next to another, as if they were a village of guest houses clustered by the sea. The said layout would make it easier for you to inquire before you finally decide on which is best for you. As for me, I opted for this place because it is already okay by my standards. I was actually looking for dorm-type accommodations but it seems that there are none here so I just chose a room. At PhP1, 200, I think it is already a good deal. Besides, I only shelled out PhP250 for my accommodation yesterday, so it is time to splurge!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

LAOAG: 02 - Texicano Hotel

Texicano Hotel has a new building and an old one. I chose a room at the old one, without bath. What does that even mean? Well, it means that there is a shared bathroom just next to your room which you would obviously have to share with other guests. Did I just state the obvious there? I paid PhP250 for a room which I imagine to be what a typical dorm room somewhere in the university belt would look like. There is a fan, a desk, a bed, a rectangular semi-creepy mirror, and two sets of drapes covering the view of the main road from your bedroom window, which unfortunately does nothing to shut off the constant noise of motorists passing by. No, curtains are not  soundproof.  The key comes with an adorable key chain, which is a cute block of wood that could double as a potent weapon if you decide to go strolling at night.

LAOAG: 01 - Ilocos at Last!

I think Ilocos hates me. Since I started getting addicted to promo fares, I think I have booked a total of three or four Manila to Laoag flights, not one of which went beyond PhP500. However, it is only now that I actually got to use a flight ticket that I booked (more costly but still below PhP1000), but not without hassles. First, I mistook the 4:20 PM departure time for 4:20 AM. Yes, you know what happened next. Waking up in the wee hours of the morning, I rushed to the airport only to find the information board without any Laoag flight slated for 4:20 AM. As I prepared to wage war against an unsuspecting ticket counter officer, I figured I would try to ask one of the security guards first, one of whom answered that there is no 4:20 AM flight because Airphil’s Manila-Laoag flights depart at 4:20 in the afternoon. It says so right there on your confirmation, sir. With a mix of embarrassment and disdain not really directed to anyone else but myself, I took a yellow cab home. Hooray Me! At least I still got to sleep once I got back home. Tradeoff.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Kimmy Dora and the Temple of Kiyeme


Twins Kimmy and Dora Go Dong Hae are back for a sequel, this time haunted by a ghost from their father’s past who leaves the sisters’ fiancés in an unusual coma. As their engagements are put indefinitely on hold because of the vengeful spirit’s doings, the siblings travel to Korea to unravel their roots and to fulfill a promise of an arranged wedding in an attempt to appease the specter which has wreaked havoc in their family.

This movie IS enjoyable but that does not mean that it is free from flaws. In fact, there are just too many. The first movie benefited from the unusual take on comedy that was perceived as fresh in the midst of slapstick comedies prevalent during the time. While the said formula is retained for this sequel, the movie just could not help but succumb to the temptation of gearing towards hysteria to elicit laughter. It does work, but one could not help but look back to the original and think why this has to veer away from a formula that obviously worked.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

AKLAN: Budget and Itinerary

SUNDAY: June 10, 2012
Taxi (Buendia - NAIA 3) - 140.50
Terminal Fee (NAIA 3) - 200.00
Cebu Pacific (Manila - Caticlan) - 426.72
Breakfast (Andoks) - 74.00
Environmental Fee (Caticlan Port) - 75.00
Terminal Fee (Caticlan Port) - 100.00
Boat (Caticlan - Cagban) - 25.00
Tricycle (Cagban - Station 2) - 20.00
Ariel's Point Package (Boracay Beach Club) - 1,500.00
Tricycle (Station 2 - Station 3) - 10.00
Seawalk Package (White Blue) - 500.00
Tricycle (Station 3 - Station 2) - 10.00
Nomad Backpackers Inn (2 Nights/Dorm Type) - 680.00
Tricycle (Station 2 - Station 3) - 10.00
Tricycle (Station 2 - Station 3) - 10.00
Lunch (Andoks) - 116.00
Snack (Paddles Up) - 95.00
Snack (Don Vito) - 100.00
Dinner (Don Vito) - 586.50

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

KALIBO: 01 - Airportline Inn

Now this one, I saw it in the Internet. I was supposed to do a Kalibo day tour but the allure of Boracay is just so strong that I just let this side trip go, which meant heading to Kalibo on a van Tuesday evening because my Manila flight departs from Kalibo early the next day. Oh well, promo fares. Back to this inn, the setup is that of a motel and even the prices follow the same pattern. You can choose among three hours, half a day, or whole day. As a three hour stay would be too short, I opted for the half day option which cost PhP300 for a fan room. They have air-conditioned rooms with some even having LCD TVs, but then again you might not need that if all you will do here is wait for your flight.

Monday, June 11, 2012

BORACAY: 03 - Jumping Off a Cliff

We all know that Boracay is all beach. Well, that is the first thing that comes to mind, but we should not forget that there are also a lot of activities in here that are worth checking out, and one of them is cliff diving. Why would you want to jump off a cliff? Adrenaline rush, my friend. There is nothing more exciting than defying gravity, failing to do so, and still ending up alive. Or do you not agree? Perhaps you are just a sissy like me. In Boracay, there is just one go-to place if you want to jump off a cliff, and that place is Ariel’s Point. Who is Ariel? I have no idea, but that is irrelevant so let us just skip the discussion.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

BORACAY: 02 - Alien vs Fish

Fish probably prefer Gardenia. That is what I thought as I waved my soaked piece of bread desperately to get their attention, but to no avail, at least for the first few minutes. I was prancing around feeling like an astronaut because of the weightlessness and the weird looking helmet on my head. The weirder thing though is how that 30 kg thing has no cover underneath. In fact, you just hold on to it so it would not float away, and you can even insert both hands inside from below if you want to blow your nose to get rid of the underwater pressure. Below the surface, its weight drops to less than a kilo, if I remember it correctly. The wonders of science! But first, how the hell did I get here?

BORACAY: 01 - Nomad Backpackers Inn

As the ads on the Internet and the barker at the port would probably tell you, one simply does not get any accommodation priced lower than a thousand bucks near Station 2. And then I saw this while hanging on the back of a tricycle scouting for accommodations. The banner is large enough for you to get a good glimpse of the overnight prices: USD8 - off peak; USD10 - peak; USD12 - super peak. And so I made up my mind to check it out after purchasing my sea walk package at White Blue where a room, just a few steps away from the beach, was also up for grabs for PhP800. I chose the backpacker’s dorm. Why? Well it was definitely an issue of price. I paid less than PhP700 for two nights here, and it is also just within walking distance from White Beach through D' Mall. Not bad.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Game of Thrones (HBO): Season 2/Episode 10

2.10 Valar Morghulis
Daenerys enters the House of the Undying and is hit by illusions of the Iron Throne, as well as of Khal Drogo and their son. Unfazed, she follows the cries of her dragons and commands them to breathe fire, incinerating the warlock. Xaro faked all his wealth and leads them to an empty vault. Daenerys seals him with her traitor handmaiden inside and loots the mansion so she can buy a ship. Arya meets her assassin Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) again and he offers to bring her to Braavos to train with the Faceless Men. She declines because she intends to reunite with her family. He leaves her with a special coin before his face changes to someone else’s. Theon rallies his men despite being outnumbered, but one of them knocks him unconscious and trades him to Roose Bolton’s forces in exchange for amnesty. Robb marries Talisa despite their arrangement with the Freys. Stannis takes out his anger on Melisandre, who still ends up convincing him that one lost battle doesn’t necessarily mean losing the war. Tyrion wakes up with his title as Hand of the King passed on to his father and his war efforts unacknowledged. Joffrey announces that he’ll marry Margaery instead, much to Sansa’s delight. His fellow prisoner from the Night’s Watch provokes Jon Snow and he ends up killing him, earning the trust of the Wildlings who bring him their King. Hearing three horn blasts, Sam is left behind as his companions flee a White Walker attack. Soon enough, he sees a large army of the undead marching towards their encampment.

Snow White and the Huntsman


Wicked stepmother Ravenna (Charlize Theron) imprisons princess Snow White (Kristen Stewart) after disposing the king with a dagger to the heart and claiming his kingdom as hers. This really is not her first foray into kingdom-grabbing. As her interesting one-minute flashback would imply, she has been doing this for more than a lifetime already, adding one kingdom after another to her collection as a form of revenge. Trouble starts when one day her Mirror on the Wall declares that she is no longer the fairest of them all, given Snow White’s entry into adulthood as a fair maiden which has an adverse effect on the queen’s appearance, making her age rapidly despite her regular consumption of the youth of the kingdom's women. Discovering that her stepdaughter’s innocence and pure heart are key to her immortality, the queen summons her for the killing, but she manages to escape to the Dark Forest. Admitting that she is powerless in the said area of the kingdom, Ravenna orders a Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to bring Snow White back to her alive.

LAGUNA: Budget and Itinerary

SUNDAY: June 3, 2012
Bus (Buendia - Balibago Waltermart) - 58.00
Breakfast (McDonalds) - 75.00
Tricycle (Waltermart - Enchanted Kingdom) - 9.00
Entrance Ticket (Enchanted Kingdom) - 500.00
Ekstreme (Enchanted Kingdom) - 80.00
Lunch (Karate Kid) - 160.00
Space Shuttle Souvenir Photo (Enchanted Kingdom) - 50.00
Bus (Balibago - Ayala) - 57.00
Total - PhP989.00

STA ROSA: Not So Enchanted Kingdom

Enchanted Kingdom is probably the closest thing to Disneyland that we have here in the Philippines. Located at the city of Sta Rosa in Laguna just south of Manila, this theme park could be reached in less than an hour from the capital, traffic permitting. Not as big as its counterparts in nearby countries, Enchanted Kingdom needs to update its facilities fast if it wants to catch up, although it is still well worth that day trip. Coming from Makati, one can ride a special shuttle that they have which, the last time I checked, was stationed in front of SM Makati at the parking lot of Hotel Intercontinental. As for us, we took a Balibago-bound bus from Buendia, got dropped off at Waltermart, and took a five-minute tricycle ride to get there. Walking is also an option. The ticket price for ride-all-you-can (or ride-almost-all-you-can) is 500 pesos on weekends.

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