Showing posts with label philippines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label philippines. Show all posts

Friday, March 23, 2012

El Nido Resorts, Palawan - A Trip of Many Firsts

In the summer of 2007 I was invited to be part of a group that went to El Nido Resorts. Back then I was blogging intermittently and was not yet on Facebook.  As I reviewed my travel pages here, I realized that I never wrote about my trip to this beautiful resort that was doubly memorable, because it was a trip of many firsts for me.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Boracay 2011

Boracay is totally changed since we visited in 2000. If at that time, the island already looked crowded, it has grown even bigger in terms of infrastructure and population, all in the name of progress.  The island's enchantment and purity in the 70's is all but gone. Once upon a time it was only people from Aklan who knew of its beautiful beach.  Of course, even the best kept secret does not stay a secret for long.  Eventually, the few settlers with land titles in the island decided to either develop, sell or lease their lands. Today, there are hundreds of resorts, both beach front or in-land, high end or budget type, varied restaurants, either local or franchised, coffee shops (yes, Starbucks is in Boracay), all kinds of bars, expensive boutiques ( I saw a Mango Outlet), and even food carts can be seen in Boracay.  I now call the place little Metro-Manila with a beachfront.  It is one big party place, THE PLACE to be seen not just in summer but at all times of the year.  If you're like me who likes privacy, peace and quiet for your vacation break...you won't find it in Boracay.







retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/manggy/2049787678/sizes/z/in/photostream/

There is one thing that has not changed though...it's Boracay's beautiful beach and famous sunset. Thank God, it's still there inspite of the island's fast growing development.

 
But, although I personally believe that this progress should slow down and local officials be more prudent in allowing too much development, I have to admit that allowing the island's multi-faceted growth has also made it very accessible to the public, unlike other private island resorts which are so expensive, only the rich and famous can enjoy their beauty. 

At the very least, Boracay offers everyone in all levels of society the chance to experience paradise.


Related Post: Coming Back to Boracay

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

    Sunday, September 27, 2009

    Epic Flooding in the Philippines

    Last Thursday, Tropical Storm Ketsana (better known in the Philippines as Typhoon "Ondoy") entered the Philippine area of responsbility. It was not even a storm yet but a tropical depression. The next day Friday, it was declared a typhoon and signal no. 1 and 2 were raised in parts of Luzon including Metro Manila. However as it swept across Luzon on early Saturday morning, packing winds of 85 kilometers per hour, or 53 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 100 kilometers per hour, "Ondoy" dumped 42.4 centimeters, or 16.7 inches, of rain in just 12 hours, said Nathaniel Cruz, the government’s chief weather forecaster. He said the rain that fell in those 12 hours was equivalent to the amount of rain that Manila received in the whole of September. To make matters worse, it was high tide and the water levels of 2 dams, Angat and Ipo were at critically high levels as well. By sunrise Metro Manila and it's environs were underwater. And for the first time, places that never flooded before were underwater ranging from ankle deep to as high as houses rooftops. Unlike the University of Santo Tomas in España Ext(my alma mater)which flooded all the time, the University of the East Medical Center (UERM) in Aurora Blvd would experience flooding from time to time but never as intense, as fast and as bad as this. Subdivisions like Provident Village in Marikina was under water and residents needed to be rescued from their rooftops, Valle Verde, Merville were also flooded. Business districts like Makati and Greenhills were also under water. Flood waters had risen so fast people did not have time to prepare....they could only try to save what they can and run to safety.

    UERM Flashflood (video by Camille Magno)


    UERM Aftermath (pictures by Rod Dizon)




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