Showing posts with label local travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label local travel. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Shout-Out To Philippine Airlines, My Home In The Sky

I know that Philippine Airlines (PAL) may not be among the best airline in the world nor ranked as one of the safest but, so what?  It will always be my home in the sky when flying around the country and it's neighboring nations.  I have always had a fear of flying but have always felt safe and secure when flying with PAL. Also, I have never had a negative experience with them except maybe for occasional delays. Even when I got stranded in Cebu during Typhoon Frank in 2008, my only complaint was the lack of information.  The ground staff did the best they could amidst all the chaos, unlike the other airlines whose staff would disappear in times like this. This is why I always fly PAL except for the very rare occasions when my tickets were purchased for me and even then, I would always request for PAL, and with good reason.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Coming Back to Boracay

The first time I went to Boracay was in the year 2000.  My cousins living in Davao (then) and Manila were all going to meet up there for the Holy Week and we (my mom, brother, son) decided to come along to celebrate my birthday there as well.  We stayed at Marzon's in station 3 while my cousins stayed at Tirol & Tirol in station 2.  It was a good thing that we did because the resort was only a few steps to the beach, it was clean with friendly and accommodating staff and above all quiet since it was far from the noise of bars playing loud music and party atmosphere in station 2.  We stayed for 2 nights and 3 days and although we enjoyed the beautiful beach, the company and the resort...fact is, Boracay is the worst place to be on Holy Week and so, I swore never to come back at this time of year.   Then come 2011...my mom wanted to spend family time with the kids before summer vacation ends, as my nephew was going to Manila for college.  The initial plan was for all of us to bring him to Manila and spend a week there.  Of course, I knew it was going to be a logistical nightmare, not to mention a physically daunting one with 2 semi-handicapped people in tow, a 2 year old baby, 1 yaya, 1 house help, tons of suitcases and 3 teens/tween.  After a short discussion, it was decided that we all go to Boracay instead since the teens have never been there. And so, plans were made, revised and finalized with reservations and a deposit made at La Carmela de Boracay.  Sunday, May 29, 2011, we left for Iloilo via the 6 AM Supercat ferry and suprisingly, the trip was relatively okay, inspite of the not-so-good weather.  Upon arrival, we were met by our rented van and driver and after a drive-thru at Jollibee's, we were on our way.   What pleasantly surprised me was how tourist-friendly the towns of Iloilo province are...there are tourist assistance desks in town plazas as well as clean and well maintained restrooms.

We arrived in Caticlan jetty port at around 11:30 and after getting our tickets, I requested for wheelchairs for my mom and brother.  Getting on the ferry boat was a breeze since our group was the first to be allowed in.  Of course, the 10 minute trip to Cagban jetty port in Boracay became 40 minutes because of the low tide and rough waters.  Thankfully, my mom and brother were ably assisted by the ferry crew and staff of the port.  The hotel van was already waiting for us and after a short ride, we arrived at the hotel. 


next post: Boracay 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Postscript to Amanpulo

After experiencing Amanpulo, then what...

I have been to famous white beaches like Boracay and Panglao Island in Bohol and I have been to Miniloc Island of El Nido Resorts in Palawan as well as Apo Island in Negros Oriental, and honestly,  Pamalican Island's (home to Amanpulo) pristine white beach surrounding the island is not much different but, taking everything else into consideration, nothing else compares to what this breathtaking island has to offer.  For one, the island's owners and Amanresorts have seen to it the island's lush tropical surroundings, flora and fauna remained untouched.  I cannot say the same for the other famous beaches in the country. Whatever development made in the island was done in such a way that modern amenities built did not change its natural beauty nor cause destruction to nature. Our casita was surrounded by wild vegetation and we had a resident bayawak living in the rocks and trees but this did not in any way diminish the modern and upscale facilities and of course, superb service. In fact, I think it just added to the atmosphere of  exclusivity and leisure that the resort is known for.  It's like living close to the wild but knowing that civilization and comfort is just a step away.  The 2 nights and 3 days stay was really just a glimpse of what the island had to offer.  I was told that some guests stay for a month...lucky them! Being land bound and not too adventurous, Amanpulo is the ultimate place to stay for me when I want to get away from it all. I loved everything about it, especially the privacy, the peacefulness, the solitude along with all the comforts of modern life.  I even felt safe there inspite of my little fall and if not for the cost, I would go back in a heartbeat. For me, the ideal number of days to stay in the island is a minimum of 4 to a maximum of 7 days...I could not imagine staying longer, unless I relocate my life over there.  Actually, villas in Amanpulo are available for purchase and a few are actually privately owned and rented out during times when the owner do not use it....so that is a thought ;-)

the beach view from casita 23

So what next?  Well...my short stay in Amanpulo will always be my ultimate vacation in terms of location and service, but nothing beats spending leisure time in the company of family and loved ones and that's what I'll be doing next...a trip to the Island of Boracay with the kids before school opens in June. The island is crowded with many resorts from budget to 6-stars, as well as bars, shops, malls and even Starbucks!  If Amanpulo is for the likes of me...Boracay is for the kids.  The White Beach is still as pristine as Pamalican Island but the atmosphere is totally different, although once upon a time Boracay Island was like Pamalican Island.  I said not too long ago that Boracay today is like Manila with a beachfront...with the way this island is being indiscriminately developed, this beautiful beach may well go the way of Manila Bay.


Some information:
  • Getting there: It is best to book through a reputable travel agency or if you want to DIY, call/email the resort for inquiries or reservations. They are very helpful.  The take off point is from Manila. You go to the Amanpulo lounge/terminal located at the A. Soriano Hangar where guests  take the approximately 2 hours ITI chartered flight to the resort.
  • Things to bring: Travel light since everything is more or less provided for except for sunblock.  Money of course, debit or credit cards, your laptop or ipad since they have wifi, cellphone (fair to good signal), beachwear, casual attire for dinner (unless you are there for a wedding), camera and video camera and medicines/first aid supplies (just in case).
  • Curious about the cost?  Anywhere between Php 70,000 to Php 80,000 PER PERSON (for group package) for a 3 day, 2 night stay and more for those planning to stay longer.  They also offer honeymoon packages and discounts during non-peak season. Please check and contact their website for details.





Related Posts:
Peaceful Island
The Road to Amanpulo 
Day 1
Day 2
Leaving Amanpulo

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Leaving Amanpulo

    My last day and I woke up late!  I took one look at the overcast sky and  knew that there will be no chance of swimming in the beach anymore.  We spent the rest of the morning packing our things and taking more pictures before lunch.  Our pizza themed lunch was initially scheduled at the picnic grove but due to the rain, venue was moved to the main clubhouse.  While there I checked out the library, boutique and swimming pool...bought some of the delicious smelling soap, the same one placed in our rooms, albeit a much bigger version.  These were 6x the cost of imported soaps but they smelled really heavenly and frankly, there was nothing cheaper to bring home as souvenir being sold in their boutiques!  There were nice keychains but no resort logo...in fact, the resort logo could only be found in a some caps, children's t-shirts (very small embroidery) and long sleeves rash guard swimwear.  I was told that Amanresorts which runs Amanpulo espouses simplicity and elegance. They do not make commercial use of their name.  The library was quiet and comfortable.  There was quite a large selection of reading materials from books to magazines.  I wanted to get a small coffee table book similar to that found in the casita but, there was none for sale.   The sun finally came out after lunch but by then we were all waiting for our plane ride back to Manila.  We left Amanpulo at 2:30 PM and this time, my view was better.  I was able to get a video of Taal Volcano and it's lake and approaching Manila, our plane was flying very low, that I imagined I could see my mom's ancestral home in Pasay.  I thought, what a great way end the weekend.






    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Day 2 in Peaceful Island

    After an exciting and food-filled first day, we retired to our beautiful casitas for a good night's rest.  The blinds were drawn and the beds turned down, when we got there.  The bathroom had everything from delicious smelling soaps, shampoos, lotions and even insect repellant.  There was coffee, cold bottled water, WIFI, cable TV and mobilephones had good signals...hmmmm, what more can a working girl ask for?  We woke up Tuesday morning to some sunshine, got ready to go to breakfast and explore the island.  That was the plan...but as my luck goes, I had a minor accident yesterday afternoon, falling on my knees which I did not think was bad but unfortunately when morning came I found myself with a slightly swollen left knee causing limited mobility.  I really don't want to talk about it, it's enough to say that I could walk but not run.  Still, I did not want to miss out on all the planned activities, so I designated myself as motivator and driver, heheh.  The whole island can be covered within an hour by buggy or about an hour and a half to two hours, if you want to walk the beach surrounding it.  First stop was the West Villa Club which is available for use for parties and events but its private pool is not open to guests.  One of the most beautiful views of the island is at Gary's Nest, where they also have their small pier.  There was the Picnic grove which was actually next to our casita.  The Beach Club where we had our Spanish themed lunch is a relaxing place where one could lounge or sunbathe.  After lunch, we went back to our casita and because of my bum knee could not accompany my roomie as she was planning to explore the rest of the island nor could I join the group for snorkeling or sailing...so instead, I just explored our beachfront, took some pictures...then siesta and a long warm bath before the luau dinner party in the evening.  

    view from Gary's Nest Photo by Paul Hechanova

    Photo courtesy of  Sheera Recto Malabanan



    The Luau party was a night of good food (there was a chef actually doing the cooking for the Asian Barbecue dinner), wine, laughter and music, including jamming from the group...all the hidden talents came out from singers to percussionists!  It was almost 11 PM and no one was leaving, but like all good things, the party has to end.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Amanpulo: A Vacation To Remember - Day 1

    We landed in Amanpulo at approximately 12:45 PM, May 9, 2011 and was warmly met by the resort's general managers, a husband and wife team, Nicholas and Christine Juett. There was a red carpet and leis placed on each guest, making me feel special the moment I got off the plane. Of course, I know that they do this for each arrival but still it was a nice touch. We were then shuttled to our individual golf carts (our mode of transportation for the duration of our stay) and our guide, Lyn took us for a short orientation tour around the main features of the private island resort before bringing us to our beach casita.  

    My roommate and I were assigned to Casita No. 23 and registration was a shoo-in...I just gave her my business card and signed the form.  After showing us the casita's features and amenities (including how to operate the cart), contact numbers and other instructions, we were left to our own devices. First on the agenda was to explore our casita.  It was lovely and looked exactly as it was featured in the website.  I have always dreamed of living in a beach front house with floor to ceiling glass windows and now I get my wish...at least for the next 3 days :)  and the bathroom?  wow! and now was not the time to feel guilty about the homeless...




    The last picture above is the view of the casita from the back...although it was just a few meters from the beach it was hidden by enough foliage, trees and bushes to allow you to keep your privacy.  Your beach is basically your own because while I was there, I only saw a family of three from a far distance.  It is so private that you can go skinny dipping and nobody would see you.  The only other living creature within sight that we saw was our very own resident "bayawak".





    The Road To Amanpulo

    I spent Sunday, May 8 preparing for my trip, although I still wasn't too sure I was making the right decision. I went to the 6:30 PM mass and I said to God...I put everything in your hands...and somehow, the hesitation greatly diminished.  When I got home, my mom told me that the typhoon was on it's way out (she was actually praying that the weather improves), which for me was a good sign.  But I slept late and woke up at 5 AM Monday, almost missing my 6:20 AM flight...not a good sign.  Surprisingly, the flight to Manila was good and although there were some rain showers, the weather seem to be cooperating...which again was a good sign (I was looking for signs everywhere)...but then again, no one came to meet me at the airport.  I tried to contact my friends and they said that a car was supposed to pick me up and bring me to where they were...at the Soriano Hanger. And so I waited...and waited...and waited...until the assigned driver finally appeared almost 1 hour after I arrived. It seems that he was given vague instructions and was actually in the parking area waiting to be contacted. Oh well.  I got to the hanger on time though, and after checking in was happy to see my friends.  Some of those in our group were a bit wary when they saw our plane, the Dornier...but not me...this 19 seater twin engine plane and I are old friends :) since way back 2008 when I went to Miniloc Resort in El Nido.  At that time, I too got scared when I saw how small it was and I thought, I need to be sedated to ride that, but it proved to be one of the most enjoyable and safest flight I had ever experienced...and best of all, it cured me of my fear of window seats! We left Manila at 11:30 AM and once again, the Dornier did not disappoint...it was a smooth flight inspite of the poor weather.  Soon we were seeing some islands...was it Mindoro?  Or parts of Palawan? Unlike the 2008 trip, I was seated on the right side of the plane this time facing the cockpit and so I could not see us approaching Pamalican Island, the island paradise of Amanpulo, but a friend was kind enough to get a picture of the island for me as we approached it.  It's not so good but it is better than nothing :)


    Here is a way better picture  ;)





    Next: A Vacation To Remember

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    Amanpulo, Peaceful Island

    The name, Amanpulo derived from the Sanskrit word aman, meaning peaceful and the Pilipino word pulo, meaning island, literally means Peaceful Island. When 2011 began, I felt it was going to be a positive year but I never would have dreamed that I would be going to this beautiful beach resort.  Why? Well, first and foremost, I would not be able to afford it, and  secondly, only the rich and famous went there, the likes of the late JFK, Jr  who went there with Darryl Hannah (this was before he got married) and more recently if grapevine is to be believed, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. And so, as much as I love going to beaches, Amanpulo or other similar places was never in my wish list (uhmmm, on second thought, maybe it was in my fantasy list) or things-to-do in the future list.  Therefore, when I was invited early this year by good friends, I did not take it seriously and promptly forgot about it.  Then they reminded me in March but then again, I was very busy with work that I wasn't too sure I can go.  Of course, those who are familiar with the place were a bit shocked that I would even consider refusing.  Well, I am not a travelling person and I had a lot of things going on at work and at home.  Even when I already said yes, and up to the day before I was set to fly to Manila, I had a lot of hesitation and I felt that nature was working against me since, suddenly, the weather turned bad and there was a typhoon!  I decided to leave it all to God...if he wants me to go...then I go.


    Next post: The Road To Amanpulo

    Saturday, June 12, 2010

    Road Trip...The Last Adventure for Summer 2010 - Lalimar

    Mornings at Lalimar is breathtaking...you wake up to this...


    a view of serene water meeting the blue sky...

    My brother was up early, so he had breakfast with our driver-mechanic at the resto-bar by the pool. My mom, daughter and her nanny were having their breakfast at the cottage veranda and told me to order mine. I wanted bacon and eggs but was told "baconsilog" was not available so I opted for "longsilog" instead, also to be delivered to the cottage of course...I told you, they had great room service...although I think it's also because my mom is a big tipper :) The kids were still asleep so I decided to explore our surroundings while waiting for breakfast.

    Cottage 1 where we stayed
    the beautiful eternity pool


    As you can see from my amateur pictures (taken with a simple digital camera), that this is a beautiful place and I'm very happy that we came.  Although the beach was full of stones, pebbles and corals, they were not sharp but rather smooth...in fact walking on them carelessly could result in slipping like what happened to my son...causing a huge tear in his board shorts (the reason for the needle and thread).  The best footwear are slippers or sandals with good soles or snorkel shoes.  After getting their bearings, the kids walked on until the water reached above their waist and I could see them snorkeling.  The water was crystal clear and schools of fish could be seen even close to the shore...

    We decided to have lunch before we left (check-out time 12 noon) and they offered an Italian menu.  I found out that they have an Italian chef who just started about 2 weeks before.  So we had 3 kinds of spaghetti and broccoli soup. They didn't have french bread (the oven will be delivered next week yet, said the chef) so we had to make do with the white bread we brought.  All in all, it was a satisfying meal and after saying our goodbyes to the staff, we were on our way home.

    The way back home gave us a different perspective of the highway...driving up the mountains of San Carlos, we saw this...


    San Carlos City's version of the Chocolate hills

    and then this...

    source:http://www.batch2006.com/negros/visit_salvador_benedicta.htm)

    It was a great way to end the summer of 2010 and we will definitely come back...maybe sooner than later.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Road Trip...The Last Adventure for Summer 2010 - Part 3

    The coastal view from Vallehermoso to La Libertad is breathtaking. I would love to have a home here where you wake up to the sea and sky becoming one. The road trip to Lalimar Resort took about an hour and it was easy to find since it is located right along the highway. The place looked clean and parking was spacious. There were a lot of people but I found out that these were just day guests. It was a very informal set-up...reception was also located at the bar where I found Leny who was in-charge of our reservation. I knew that check-in time was 2 PM but we arrived early a little past 1 PM and our room was still being readied but the staff was kind enough to allow us to stay in the porch while waiting. The room was very spacious, T&B was clean and there was hot and cold water. After a simple check-in procedure, we all settled in...and the kids went around to explore the place. I checked out the bar...and found that mineral water and sodas were expensive...a liter of Wilkens cost Php 55.00!!! I decided to go to town to buy water, soda and a sewing kit. La Libertad is a very rural town...so if you are looking for a supermarket or at the very least, a grocery store...don't. There is a single level market with dry goods stores, a pharmacy and a cooperative store aside from the usual wet market and food stalls. I got 3 gallons of Wilkens at Php60.00 each and 3 liters of Coke and a liter of Sprite and Royal Tru-Orange...and of course, the thread and needles :) , as well as Php50.00 worth of ice in narrow plastic bags...mission accomplished! Now that I got the "essentials" out of the way...it was time to have some fun. The kids decided to try the beach first while our baby Ella, went for a dip in the very enticing infinity pool with her yaya. I decided to join them and soon after the kids came over too. Since we were in the eastern side of the island, there was no sunset view here but, that's okay...the pool and the view from the Tanon Strait where you can see the island of Cebu was a treat in itself. We had dinner on the porch (they had room service!) and surprisingly the food was good and very affordable (so...only the drinks were expensive)...another great thing about our room was the fact that we were near the pool area where there was ....free WIFI! After eating the kids went to the cabanas with their laptops and spent the rest of the evening on-line. They gave me exactly 5 minutes to check my e-mail. I was in bed by 10 PM but since Ella slept with me, I had a restless sleep. I think I woke up at around 2 AM to bring the air-conditioner down because earlier I gave up my blanket to the yaya who was feeling cold. I was not in the direct path of the AC, so I thought I wouldn't get cold. My mom, brother, Ella and her yaya Jackie were up and about by 6 AM....someone placed a blanket over me and I went back to sleep.

    Wednesday, June 09, 2010

    Road Trip...The Last Adventure for Summer 2010 - Part 2

    It was after the surgical mission organized by the Provincial Health Office in '97 or '98 in Calatrava town that the team decided to come back to Bacolod via the new Negros Translink Highway.  It was about 60% finished then, steep and dusty with some fantastic sceneries.  Today, more than 10 years after, it is a bustling highway and the scenery became even more beautiful. The waterfall which I first saw in the 90's is still there with it's viewing deck.  There are vendors now selling foodstuffs and restrooms! The air here is cold and if you plan to stay longer and explore, it would be practical to wear something  to keep you warmer or bring a jacket.


    But sadly, there is one thing that has not changed much...and that is, denuded hills. I still do not see new trees in the hills of San Carlos and Negros Oriental.  After some picture taking and a car-sickness mishap (all that zig-zags and curves took its toll), we arrived in San Carlos at around 10 AM.  San Carlos City has not changed much although they have a new City Hall, a park and a high end subdivision at the outskirts of the town proper.  There is a mall but it was basically empty except for some stalls, a few shops and the main department store.  It was also very warm so that we decided to have an early lunch in Jollibee (located in the mall)...then off to replenish some emergency supplies which was all used up due to that one car-sickness episode ;)  We went to look for a grocery store in downtown San Carlos but the only one we found was this popular general merchandise store that sold only cheap made in china goods...oh well. Finally, after getting the bare minimum of what I needed... muscles and legs no longer aching and niece no longer carsick...we were off to our destination...the Lalimar Resort in La Libertad!

    Tuesday, June 08, 2010

    Road Trip...The Last Adventure for Summer 2010 - Part 1

    For the longest time I have been wanting to take a road trip to Northern Negros via the Translink Highway that run from Salvador Benedicto town to San Carlos City.  The first time I passed through here was in the mid 90's when it was still being completed...the view was fantastic but on the roadsides were basically just nipa huts and road workers.  I remember we were a convoy of ambulances and we would wave at the people and they would wave back, especially the children.  I actually felt like some minor celebrity...heehee.  And so last June 5, 2010, a day after my brother's birthday, we decided to take that road trip.

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