Monday, November 29, 2010

Marijuana for Tourists

WeedpotMary Janegrassherbdopeschwag, buddha or bud and reefer, are among the many other nicknames for marijuana or cannabis as a drug.

photo lifted from here >>>
Through the grapevine, I've heard that one of the reasons backpackers visit Sagada is joint--the cigarette form of cannabis or marijuana. The location and balmy weather of the town--the main draw for many travelers--are ideal for growing the cannabis plant.

In Baguio and Cebu, Philippines, they come in brownies form. In Varanasi, India, they come in bhang milkshake. In Siem Reap, Cambodia in happy pizza (though many would argue that they use a certain variety of mushroom instead of marijuana. 

Why We Travel

The classic essay on why we travel by Pico Iyer explores the idea of self, home, beliefs and perspective that we, as travelers, carry with us when we travel.

“A man never goes so far as when he doesn’t know where he is going.”
On the issue of tourist vs. traveler, Iyer wrote: Though it’s fashionable nowadays to draw a distinction between the “tourist” and the “traveler,” perhaps the real distinction lies between those who leave their assumptions at home, and those who don’t. He continued Among those who don’t, a tourist is just someone who complains, “Nothing here is the way it is at home,” while a traveler is one who grumbles, “Everything here is the same as it is in Cairo—or Cuzco or Kathmandu.” It’s all very much the same.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Philippines 101: for the first-time (budget) traveler!

In many parts of the world, less is known about the country where I come from. No! People here don't swing on trees. Neither do terrorist bombs go off every other minute.

Team Manila tourism poster lifted from here >>>

Here, in the country where I come from, travel comes dirt cheap even if you don't see it like the locals do. Food, lodging, beer and what-not are cheap. It's a third world country, alright. Where there is poverty, there is also high crime rate. The moment you step out of the airport in Manila, never leave your common sense, secure your important belongings, and brace yourself for the worst. Taxi drivers waiting outside are crooks, many would say. But I'm sure your guidebook has told you about that already. Don't expect an efficient transport system like HK or Bangkok. The traffic:  monstrous, the pollution: heavy, side streets: ghastly and jeepney drivers do not drive but they fly jeepneys!

Friday, November 26, 2010

how much of The Philippines have you visited?

Not bad. I got a B-

7,107 islands. 81 provinces. One lifetime! Getting an A+ is a grim scenario between today and next year. If you take a look at my travel plans for 2011, none of which involves a trip to a new place in the country. Save for CamSur + Caramoan and Palawan in the pipeline.

How much of the Philippines have you visited?
Find out at Lakbayan!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Come, Discover the Philippines!

photo lifted from nat
What makes the Philippines more than a usual holiday destination?

Some say, when the Gods created the Philippine island, they like it so much, they decided to create seven thousand more. That meant having over seven thousand different views of the sun, and many different beaches like Boracay, which is probably unlike anywhere you’ve ever been.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

DoT Usec Romano's resignation letter

MANILA, Philippines – Tourism Undersecretary Vicente Romano III announced his resignation from his post on Tuesday afternoon. Romano made the announcement in a press briefing. more news at website

DOT USEC Romano's Resignation Letter

DoT rebranding (and the plot thickens...)

I thought the burning issue last week would die down as soon as Campaigns and Grey and the Philippine Department of Tourism made their public statements last Friday.

But somebody let one cat out of the bag! Here's what I stumbled upon in facebook.

"It all began as a very simple event. A launch invitation was sent, people went and the media did their job covering. But what began as a simple launch of a government project turned out to be another scratch in a the foible that seems to be the Aquino administration.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

cool Team Manila tourism posters!

I'm no expert at style but I can tell a good one when I see one. 

It was three years ago when Team Manila's iconic shirt (with national hero Jose Rizal wearing shades) started appearing in my favorite clothing outlet in Cebu. I couldn't resist so I got one for myself. The hip design never failed to WOW! my friends (even strangers that I just met). And yes, it was also a good conversation piece.

Early this year, the same group brought us totally cool graphic designs of Intramuros and other local destinations. Now, from the same cool group comes a set of posters promoting local tourism! How cool can one possibly get? 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

statements from Campaigns & Grey and the DoT Undersecretary

Here's the public statement from Campaigns and Grey.

Friday, November 19, 2010

WOW! kay ganda (the botched tourism campaign)

The new tourism campaign is an epic fail. Let's face it.

what's this, a morning show?!
At a Pinoy travel bloggers forum (it's a by-invitation-only; in a networking site) that I've joined lately, everyone is not favorable with the re-brand. I'd love to reprint the comments here but the forum is private and I want to keep it that way.

First came the slogan which received the first major flak. "Pilipinas Kay Ganda (Philippines What a Beauty). Critics believed it lacked the punch. Not only social networking sites like twitter and facebook that are all abuzz but congress and senate as well! It's all in the news and it's all beginning to look like a circus!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

black magic and the black virgin of Siquijor

Curious travelers come to Siquijor for a variety of reasons. Black magic is one. The island's quiet and laid-back charm (and beautiful beaches) is another. But two days each year, only during Good Friday and Black Saturday, people from around the globe who have special interest in the occult flock to Siquijor to see first-hand how concoctions are made deep in the mountains of San Antonio.

black magic virgin?
For decades, Siquijor has been known as the island of sorcerers and black magic. Stories abound how the island is divided into the good and evil sorcerers. The good being the faith healers or herbolarios in Visayan parlance while the evil being the mangkukulam.

In a town about 25 kilometers from the capital town of Siquijor, Siquijor, folklore has it that there is a virgin who wears black and prowls the streets of the town at night. She carries an inverted crucifix on one hand and a skull on the other. To complete the eerie image, she drags a chain as she walks in the dead of the night.

I was instantly drawn to this bizarre, albeit haunting story. But the big road block I had to deal with are the locals themselves. In the first place, no one would ever admit that sorcery and witchcraft exist in the island.

an insider's tip to Siquijor's best kept secret

Lazi Convent has the bragging rights as the biggest convent in Asia.
If you've visited Siquijor, it's impossible not to like its laid-back charm. It's mystique is the kind that grows on you. It's my nth time to visit the island but its spell hasn't worn off on me yet. 

Twice a year, I visit Siquijor as part of my job as Outdoors Education Coordinator. In between, I make a quick trip there to recharge myself or simply put it, to wax poetic.

What I'm about to share is not something every guidebook has. It's a local information that I have gathered all these years in my travels back and forth to the island of fire--as Siquijor is aptly called. What this is? We will soon find out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

from the Cordilleras to Pinatubo (and the elements of disaster)

The trip from Bontoc to Banaue and Mount Pinatubo had the elements of a comedy + suspense movie written all over it!

Firstly, the diarrhea. The greedy load of yoghurt in Sagada surely did kick-in. What would you do inside a bus on a 9-hour drive?

Next, the late afternoon bus I was on had mechanical malfunction just before it started to climb the snaking and high road to Banaue. The incessant and unforgiving rain and the fog which made visibility a mere 5 meters were another. To complete the scene, include the mudslide--and it's not the alcoholic drink!

I can only take so much!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Overnight in Sagada (and if sex is yoghurt, this must be it!)

If the town smells of pine and the clouds hang low, chances are, it must be heaven or at the very least, Sagada!

I arrived during the slack month of August. That said, all other travelers where nowhere to be found. The inn where I holed-up (frequented by backpackers for its laid-back character, homey-feel and reasonably priced rooms; no fireplace though) was practically empty!

The first time I was in Sagada during a Labor Day weekend, I was all agog to shove one bowl of the well-praised (high, lofty and mighty in food heaven as reviewed by foodies and trying-hard foodies alike) home-made yoghurt down my throat!

Bummer! Yoghurt House was filled to the rafters that time so I ended picking up myself in Lemon Pie House down the road. Not that bad. I never had the chance to redeem myself the next day since I left Sagada in a rush to keep up with a schedule.