Thursday, July 25, 2013

TRAVEL: BALI-taktakan! Fly directly from Manila to Bali!

Aaah... Bali... It's calling me! (Photo credit to
I remember my dad singing to me this old song from the broadway musical "South Pacific" entitled "Bali Ha'i" (If you're curious, click here). I remember I would always laugh my ass out because he exaggerates the way he sings. HAHAHA! Anyway. It says in the lines of the actress that Bali Ha'i means "I am your special island". 

Listening to the song -- with the smooth sound of the violins, the organic feel of the woman's voice and the gentle words singing "come to me, come to me" -- seems to always put me into a "summer trance". It makes me want to grab a tropical drink, jump into a hammock and be lazy all day! To me, it's just the perfect getaway! Ever since then, I've always perceived Bali (now the actual island) to be something similar to that -- another one of my dream paradise destinations!

Now, the dream seems to look a bit clearer because Cebu Pacific, the Philippines' largest national flag carrier, already made it possible to fly directly to Bali (Denpasar) from Manila just this year! Based from what I've read on their website, its the airline company's 20th international destination. It will serve two flights per week, Tuesdays and Saturdays, with an early MLA departure time at 4:00AM. Year-round rates for Bali is at P3,499, which is deemed to be a lot cheaper compared to other airlines. Going to paradise seems to be a whole lot easier for Filipinos now. It's literally a ticket going DIRECTLY to paradise! 

Who wouldn't go all Eat.Pray.Love in a destination like this? (Photo credit to
And now for some shameless plugging. HAHA! If you're up for it, please vote for my entry in Cebu Pacific's Crazy for Bali! 
We're CUREEYZEEEH for Bali!
From T-B
Philippe dela Cruz (riding the helicopter),
Katrina Barrera (rappelling)
Lloyd Florendo (surfing)
Jonel Factor (white water rafting)
Kimmi Recuenco (snorkeling)

Here's how to vote for our entry:
1. Visit this link

2. If you haven't liked the Cebu Pacific page, please hit LIKE on top first! (The LIKE button is at the upper right side of the page)

3. Click on the "VOTE FOR THIS ENTRY" button under our photo. Our entry is "nakaka-BALI-w!"

4. Share with your friends on Facebook & Twitter!

It's my first time ever to join a contest like this and if the energy of the universe will conspire to help us…  it would also be my first time to go to Bali. That's probably why I'm so excited about it! Lots of firsts! Hope this endeavor becomes a very memorable one! Woot! Woot!

For updates on exciting promos and offers by Cebu Pacific, like their facebook fanpage, follow them on twitter or visit their website at

Did you vote for my team? Leave a message in my chatbox! :)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

TRAVEL: The Ruins at Talisay City, Negros Occidental

The Ruins at Talisay City, Bacolod
The moment I saw images of The Ruins on photos and social networks, I vowed to myself that I will visit this magnificent place before I die. Lo and behold, I was very fortunate enough to fit a side trip to Bacolod in our eventful Cebu escapade. 

My experience was rather embarrassing. Really. I was literally screaming my lungs out at the sight of The Ruin's chimney. Apparently, I was also shouting out phrases that I didn't know were inside my freaking mind! A sample phrase would be "Gusto ko na magpakasal! Now na!" ("I want to get married right at this very moment!") and other embarrassing statements that I choose not to disclose in this blog. HAHAHA! I was thankful that none of my friends (and also the parents of our host whom I just met a few hours before I started acting all possessed) who were with me inside the car didn't disown me or condemned me to death. 

Anyhoo, before I go berserk with excitement again let me tell you the top 10 interesting facts that I learned about The Ruins:

1. The beautiful mansion was owned by Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson and his first wife, Maria Braga Lacson. It was the biggest structure in Talisay City at that time and it housed furniture and home items from different parts of Europe and Asia. 

2. The owners originally had an azucarera (sugar plantation) within their lot hence the sight of the tall and beautiful brick chimney in front of the mansion. 

Superb building and construction skills, people! Two thumbs up! 
3. The mixture of cement used to build the the mansion had eggshells on them. That's probably why its walls will still feel very smooth when you touch them.

4. During World War II, the locals together with the Americans burnt the mansion down so as to prevent the Japanese from converting it to their very own headquarters and fortress. The other house that the owners evacuated to was also taken down together with the nice furniture and most of its photos, hence you will never find a photo of the mansion in its full form. 

These steps used to have thick planks of wood. It was mentioned that even the bolts and screws used here are made out of wood. 
Would you believe that the embellishments of the structure was able to survive 3 days of burning?
5. It took approximately 3 long days to burn the structure down primarily because of the wood used in building the mansion. Despite the long hours of burning the mansion down, its main frame and some of the intricate details are still present. Just imagine how sturdy are the materials used in building this house!

Love that would last for eternity! It's written all over The Ruins!
6. Cheesy fact: If you look closely at the mansion's pillars, you will see patterns that would resemble a letter "E" and a number "3". These are actually two letter Ms facing each other which stands for the first letter of the first names of the owners, Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson and Maria Braga. It was believed to symbolize their eternal love and adoration for each other. And as cheesy as it sounds, the pillars and its markings are still here and will forever stand the test of time. Aaaawww... 

7. It was also mentioned during the tour that the children of the mansion owners had to move out right away if they choose to marry. Marrying also voids the children's shares and ownership of the mansion and other land properties. 

The facade of the mansion naturally emits romance and passion. 
8. You can actually rent out the place for pre-nups, weddings, events and concerts. Woot! Woot! And yes, when we were there I mentioned (like a hundred times) that I want to have ONE OF MY pre-nup photo shoots at that place. HAHAHA! 

9. Mr. Ramon Hofileña, by far the best tourist guide I've ever met, helped discover and revive this landmark a few years back. He said that he found this spot all cluttered with a few informal settlers within its premises. He insisted to do a clean up and actually turn it into a tourist spot. Good job! 

10. At present, The Ruins is considered the "Taj Majal" of Bacolod and is recognized as one of the best ruins both locally and worldwide.

In any angle, The Ruins just seems very perfect to me. I love it! 

For me, this landmark is beyond the elegant structure, greenery and ambiance. Its all about the energy that you get from the stories of glory, downfall and redemption wrapped around its premises. Its walls just seems to house so much emotion and culture that naturally inspires me to fall in love with life altogether. :)

Blogoblab Tip: If you're planning to go and visit The Ruins, it's best if you rent out your personal vehicle and driver since its situated inside a village. Make sure you also check the schedule of the tour first so that you won't miss out on the explanations and stories about the landmark. For more information, you can visit their website here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

FOOD: Where to Eat in Cebu City

Aside from the visual and auditory delights that I experienced in Cebu, I must say that one of the unforgettable highlights that I got to experience in the entire trip was through my mouth. (No green connotation intended!). For the past few months, I was actually struggling to get into a rather strict diet since my sister is getting married soon. But all those weight-gain-worries were all forgotten at the sight of all those freaking delectable food!

So let me give you my two cents worth of the gastronomical stops that you can try out if you're planning to go on a trip to that big city down south.

This reminded me of Newton Circus in Singapore except that it has all types of pinoy street food instead of full on dishes. The location and ambiance of the place doesn't feel really secured (so make sure you don't bring so much valuables when going here), but then you can still feel the richness of its culture and the authenticity of the flavors the moment you walk in. Its very overwhelming at first because all these store owners would flock you and try to convince you to buy from them, but the "mechanics" in eating at Larsian is very simple -- (1) pick a store, (2) choose what you want them to grill, (3) take a seat and mix your sawsawans (4) get as many puso rice as you like and (5) when your gets off the grill, ATTACK! 

Location: Capitol Site, Cebu City
Price Range: P50.00 to P80.00 per person 

Rico's Lechon
Aside from the known brands of Cebu Lechon (Zubuchon and CNT), I could probably say that I was able to enjoy this brand just the same. When we dined in, we ordered two types -- 1/2 kilo of the spicy lechon and 1/2 kilo of the regular lechon. For a group of three girls, this was too much for us (too much to eat and too much high blood pressure attacks). Also, just like the other known Cebu Lechon stores, Rico's Lechon also knows how to travel pack orders so that it would be safe for travel. 

Location: Unit 4&5, Ridges, Commercial Complex, F. Cabahug St., 6000 Mabolo, Cebu City, Philippines 
Price Range: P300.00 to P600.00 per person 

Dessert Factory
If you're with your girl friends hanging out in Metro Cebu, then this would be the perfect place to sit down and have that long overdue PMS / Love Life / Quarter Life Crisis talks. Anything sweet and could calm down your raging feminine hormones are basically on their menu like ice cream cakes, a la modes, cookies, sponge cakes, milk shakes, espressos and banana splits. Name it! I also like the ambiance of the place because of all the pastel shades of green and purple -- it makes me feel like a girl. HAHAHA! 

Location: 3/F Ayala Center Cebu, Cebu City 
Price Range: P180.00 to P250.00 per serving of cake / coffee

Paolito's STK
This has always been one of my favorites ever since my ex-boss introduced this to me one faithful business trip. I've always loved what I would like to call "pink rice" (which is written in their menu as bagoong rice). It's "bagoong" flavor is just very subtle which makes it ideal to mix with other dishes. I also like their baked scallops which I admit, I could finish like three plates of it. The location of this restaurant is also not known to most taxi drivers or van drivers in Metro Cebu, but you can mention to them that the street is near the Dynasty Tourist Inn. I must say, this is a really go-to place when you're in Cebu. 

Location: 6 Orchid Street Capitol Site. Cebu City.
Price Range: P200.00 to P300.00 per dish 

Mooon Cafe
For all those self-diagnosed OC people, yes, it really has three letter Os! Mooon Cafe is a Mexican fusion inspired restaurant that could more or less be at par with similar restaurants here in Manila such as Agave or Cantina. They are very known for their hardcore Tacos, Nachos, Fajitas, Baby Back Ribs, Burritos and what not. I've seen this food chain in different spots in Visayas region, but I've read that they will open somewhere in Manila. 

Location: 2/F Ayala Center Cebu, Cebu City  
Price Range: P250.00 to P400.00 per dish 

Sunburst Chicken
If you're in for quality quick meals, Sunburst Chicken is the place to dine in. What I liked about on the menu is their hefty order of Chicken Skin. I really didn't care if I ate Cebu Lechon earlier that day and munched on those crispy skins after. I just YOLO-ed my way to having a high blood attack! There are a whole lot of combo meals to choose from which I think is really good for families and big groups. 

Location: Annex Building, SM City Cebu
Price Range: P150.00 to P200.00 per dish

Are you in Cebu City but can't decide where to go to? Check out my previous posts about the city's landmarks here and here

Friday, July 5, 2013

JUST IN: DOT Kicks Off More Fun Activities in Intramuros

I've visited Intramuros and Fort Santiago this year about 3 or 4 times already just for the sake of appreciating its greatness (and because there are a lot of portals there and I'm trying to level up. Read about it here.) It's good to know that the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Intramuros Administration already have programs lined up for that one heck of a fortress! And to jumpstart their campaign entitled "Kultura... Musika... Saya!", both groups are throwing a free-admission rock concert at the Maestranza Park of the Walled City today, July 5, 2013! Check out the details below! 

The Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Intramuros Administration launch “Kultura…Musika…Saya!” featuring Intramuros Rocks, a free-admission concert at the Maestranza Park of the Walled City scheduled on 5 July 2013.

Intramuros Rocks serves as a kick-off activity of the many programs and events under the Intramuros Redevelopment Plan, aimed at promoting cultural appreciation and heritage awareness to the public,
especially the youth. The concert will feature bands and artists including Shamrock, Spirit of ‘67, Pilipinas Got Talent finalist Zilent Overload, and many others. There will also be a bazaar featuring food stalls and booths selling local handicraft, tribal arts, and other novelty items within the newly restored Maestranza Park.

The venue, also called Almacenes Curtain Wall, is situated right beside the Pasig River and was a former storehouse and soldier’s quarter during the Spanish time. Formerly the seat of Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines, Intramuros is home to important historical sites and tourist spots such as Fort Santiago, Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church and Casa Manila.

“Intramuros, as a historical and cultural center, plays an important role in the promotion of Manila as a premier destination. The walls of Intramuros tell a beautiful story of our resilience. It is not only an important cultural landmark, but also one of the historical treasures we Filipinos must protect,” Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. said.

“It would be fulfilling to see our youth of today discover new reasons to appreciate the Walled City and become active participants in its promotion,” the tourism chief added.

For event details, interested parties may contact the DOT-NCR Product Development and Research Unit at 524-8311 and 523-8823 or the Tourist Information & Special Projects Unit at 525-2000 and 524-2384.

From the Office of Marketing Communications of the Department of Tourism

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

EVENTS: Wicked: The Untold Stories of the Witches of Oz is coming to Manila!

Where will she strike next? Here in Manila I tells yah! WOOHOO!

I've already seen the award winning musical "Wicked: The Untold Stories of the Witches of Oz", not once but twice already. Exaggerated as it may seem but I'm always at awe every time I watch it live, watch snippets over Youtube or just plainly listen to its soundtrack over my iPod. It just never gets old!

The first time that I was able to watch it was at the Apollo Victoria Theater at London's West End during my family euro trip back in 2009.

The second time that I got to watch it was just last year (2012) when the Australian cast performed at Singapore's Marina Bay Sands Theatre.

And lo and behold, the show is finally coming to the Philippines! Ticket selling will start in August 2013 and the actual show dates will be from January 2014 to March 2014 (the show will roughly run about 6 weeks). The award winning musical will be housed at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theatre. There are no announcements yet on the cast, ticket prices and exact show dates. But will definitely keep an eye on Ticket World's website for further announcements.

I literally teared up during the scene of "Defying Gravity" in both shows that I've seen and I'm pretty sure I'll do so again when I watch its run here in Manila.

So... Are you guys watching?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

JUST IN: I.T. Competition For Intelligent Trip-Planning by DOTC!

To all my geeky and brilliant friends out there... The on-going project of DOTC just gets more exciting! Soak up all the information below and join the competition! 

So who's going to pave the way to the all-new Philippine Transit Information Service (PTIS) App? 


Manila, Philippines – The launch of the first national transport application (app) development competition led by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) will be held today, July 2, 2013, in partnership with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Cebu City Government.

In a move to maximize the conveniences made possible by modern technology in delivering its services to the people, the transport agency is opening its database on bus, train, and jeepney routes in Metro Manila, called the Philippine Transit Information Service (PTIS), to the public, via the Philippine Transit App Challenge.

The competition will be a three (3)-month long hack-at-home event – a new trend in the IT community which allows software developers to create apps at their own pace and on their own time, using the same datasets provided to them.  Based on the international experience, hack-at-home events lead to the development of a broad spectrum of apps, many of which were not previously conceived and which give end-users a wide range of products to utilize and enjoy.

“We are very excited about the Challenge and we expect it to bring out a lot of innovation from software developers.  The goal is to create all sorts of apps which will make commuting in Metro Manila much more convenient,” said DOTC spokesperson Migs Sagcal.

The PTIS database contains previously-unavailable data gathered from participating agencies such as the MMDA, the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3), the Philippine National Railways (PNR), the Land Transportation Franchising & Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (CITOM).

It will contain two (2) kinds of datasets: regularly-updated geographic location and service information on bus, train, and jeepney routes in Metro Manila, as well as live traffic incident data streams in both Metro Manila and Cebu City.

This means that the commuters will now be able to easily check the various routes available to take from one point to another, including how many transfers each route will require, how much fare will be needed, and how much travel time will be involved.  This will allow the public to make better-informed decisions when they plan their trips, resulting in more convenience and efficiency, and a better passenger experience overall.

“The point is to empower the public with better decision-making abilities using our data.  This project stems from government’s effort to look at public service delivery from the viewpoint of the end-user, and to make commuting better for everyone,” Sagcal remarked.

The Philippine Transit App Challenge, which will be open to all interested app developers, will be launched at the Toyota Auditorium of the University of the Philippines’ Asia Learning Center in Diliman, Quezon City, on July 2, 2013, 9:30AM.  More details about the event are available on the competition’s official website,

Monday, July 1, 2013

JUST IN: Good news to all Metro Manila commuters!

Good news to all commuters in the metro! Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is cooking up something that would make our Manila commuting lives a little bit better! Read the official press release below to know more about it! 

"Using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, the DOTC gathered data on more than nine hundred (900) bus, train, and jeepney routes."

Previously-unavailable Transit Data Now Ready, Organized

Manila, Philippines – An exhaustive, two (2)-year effort to gather and organize previously-unavailable data on buses, jeepneys, and trains in Metro Manila has been completed by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), now making it possible for commuters to plan their trips more efficiently and conveniently.

The initiative of building the Philippine Transit Information Service (PTIS) began in 2011, at a time when the Transport agency could not immediately provide certain essential information to commuters, such as the best route to take at a particular time, as well as the travel times involved. 

“The need to gather reliable data at that time in order to deliver convenient and efficient services to the public was immediately recognized and pursued,” explained DOTC spokesperson Migs Sagcal.

Using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, the DOTC gathered data on more than nine hundred (900) bus, train, and jeepney routes.  It also collected useful information such as the fares and amounts of time required to take these various modes of transport.

Following this, the data was organized and analyzed by the DOTC along with other concerned offices such as the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Land Transportation Franchising & Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), and the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC).

As a result, it will now be possible to find out what a commuter’s options are to get from one point to another in Metro Manila, what types of transportation and how many transfers will be involved, and how much money and time each option will require.

“Our next step is to make the PTIS accessible to the public.  The intention has always been to use modern technology in empowering people to make well-informed decisions on their commute,” added Sagcal.

The two (2)-year data gathering and analysis effort was made possible by a grant from the World Bank, which also funded a similar project of the Cebu City Government to make its traffic management efforts more advanced.

The DOTC, MMDA, and the Cebu City Government will be hosting a three month-long competition called the Philippine Transit App Challenge along with other government agencies beginning this month, where individuals and groups mainly from the Information Technology (IT) industry will compete to develop applications using the PTIS database, which the public may then use to choose their best routes at any given time.


This reminds me of the commuting system / online portal of Singapore. I've always been impressed on how organized and efficient this process is, most especially for tourists. In all honesty, I'm very excited to see a similar practice here in the Philippines. 

What do you guys think?