Friday, December 31, 2010

It's 2011! Let's all have a blast! (Philippine Legal Holidays as declared by Malacanang)

I only have good public holiday memories of 2010! As the year comes to a close let us not forget to count our wonderful travel experiences and the blessings that flow with them! It was a bountiful year of grace (notwithstanding plenty of public holidays)!

Moving on, It's 2011! Cheers!

Vive bene spesso l'amore di risata molto

Live well love often laugh much

From 21 public holidays last year, it's down to 16 this year. P Noy cut the number of paid holidays amid complaints from foreign business groups unhappy over mounting overtime pay.
"Mr. Aquino said the Philippines tended to go off work even when it was not observing religious holidays or the death anniversaries of heroes, such as when a regular working Friday or Monday is sandwiched between a holiday and the weekend.
Seven foreign chambers of commerce issued a report earlier last week that concluded too many holidays were forcing many potential investors to avoid the country while raising costs for employers by tens of millions of dollars."

To help you plan your trips ahead, here is the official declaration by Malacanang:
"As per Official Gazette post, President Benigno S. Aquino III signed Proclamation No. 84 entitled DECLARING THE REGULAR HOLIDAYS, SPECIAL (NON-WORKING) DAYS, AND SPECIAL HOLIDAY (FOR ALL SCHOOLS) FOR THE YEAR 2011 today.
According to the Proclamation No. 84, the Philippines 2011 holiday are categorized into three: Regular HolidaysSpecial Non-Working Days and Special Holiday (for all schools).
The following days will be Regular Holidays:
  • New Year’s Day – January 1 (Saturday)
  • Araw ng Kagitingan – April 9 (Saturday)
  • Maundy Thursday – April 21
  • Good Friday – April 22
  • Labor Day – May 1 (Sunday)
  • Independence Day – June 12 (Sunday)
  • National Heroes Day – August 29 (Last Monday of August)
  • Bonifacio Day – November 30 (Wednesday)
  • Christmas Day – December 25 (Sunday)
  • Rizal Day – December 30 (Friday)
The following days are Special Non-Working Days:
  • Ninoy Aquino Day – August 21 (Sunday)
  • All Saints Day – November 1 (Tuesday)
  • Last Day of the Year – December 31 (Saturday)
And a day will be Special Holiday (for all schools):
  • EDSA Revolution Anniversary – February 25 (Friday)

The proclamation also have provisions for the national holidays for the observance of Eid’l Fitr and Eidul Adha, but the exact date is still to be determined in accordance with the Islamic calendar. The dates shall be determined by National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF). 
"The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) shall promulgate the implementing guidelines for this Proclamation," the proclamation stated.

The compelete proclamation in pdf file can be accessed thru this link

More travels! Have a blast in 2011!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

happy holidays!

My only Christmas wish is to spend
this Christmas with you and Mum...

Now, my Christmas is complete! 

from B, Mum and me...
have a very Merry Christmas everyone!

happy travels. be safe.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

a "note" on Philippines new generation bank notes

Paper bills are good conversation pieces. This I picked-up along the way when I had a couchsurfer guest. When it was her turn to say something about her country, she gingerly fished out her wallet, opened it and pulled five paper bills in different denominations. Then she began telling me about her country based on the symbols and prints of the money. The idea blew my mind! Such a simple visual aid went a long way. So, every time I travel, I always stash some local paper bills for the "show-and-tell" or better still, cash emergency.

On Thursday this week, the new bank notes of the country was finally launch after three years (from conceptualization to printing, the works). And they look rather pretty! Here they are:

Kwarta, kay ganda!
"All six banknote denominations – including P20, P50, P100, P200, P500, and P1,000 – have new designs but the old colors were retained. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

quaint places in The Philippines

Anito by Karlo de Leon
It's impossible not to like a quaint little village--old fashioned charm, picturesque in an odd way. Strange as it may seem but it's like ugly is banned in the whole place.

In a country rich in history and natural beauty where the sea plays intimate with the mountains, The Philippines offers disarmingly pretty little towns in coves hugged by the surf of the Pacific Ocean or South China Sea or tucked in a blanket of mist in the mighty Cordillera Mountains and much more; all these come under the warmth of the year-long tropical sun.

Accessibility to some of these places could be an issue. At its best, the village can be reached by bus or a thrice weekly flights. That being said, these places are less frequented by tourists. And these are all yours for the taking.

Fourteen travel bloggers from The Philippines come together to bring you first-person accounts of the best of the islands! 

In this second edition of Pinoy Travel Bloggers' (PTB) Blog Carnival, PTB unites to bring you quaint little places of the Philippines--from the familiar to the unfamiliar, albeit strange (names of places you will probably hear for the first time like Sitangkai near Borneo)!

Batanes. For those in-the-know, Batanes tops the list not only for its quaint places but also for it's unique landscape which is unlike anywhere else in the archipelago. Three bloggers share their adventures and misadventures:
Mystical Batanes by Lilliane Cobia
Lilliane Cobiao of travels the world on a quest to live a life not ordinary. A lass who wanders, she began her blog to update family and friends while she was backpacking in Europe in 2007. 
In this edition, she has chosen Batanes for the mystical experience the island brings. She shares “When face-to-faced with the crashing waves and rolling hills of Batanes, it’s almost an impulse to ask am I still in the Philippines?And walking through the old town of Sabtang, you wonder which century you were transported in to. Such are examples of  mystical experiences of coming to Batanes.”
Read more on Wanderlass' Batanes experience (including how her group managed the flight cancellation and eventually squeezed in their schedule) by clicking here >>> Connect with her thru  facebook: and twitter:

Green Batanes  by Melo Villareal
Melo Villareal of has handpicked Batanes, specifically Sabtang Island. Melo is a freelance travel photo-journalist for local and international travel publications. He specializes in travel photography that celebrates the living remnants of the past and in the process, creates conservation awareness. 
In this edition of the blog carnival, he handpicked Sabtang Island, Batanes and gives the readers a fully-loaded insider's tips like bringing a dry sack and an eye patch (like the ones worn by pirates). He shares “Looking for one of the best adventure destinations in the Philippines? Well, you don’t need to look any further than Batanes and to be more specific, Sabtang Island. Just as a safety measure in case you don’t trust what you read on some travel magazines, I fully back them up. Sabtang Island is truly an awesome place to visit.” 
More on Melo's Sabtang experience by clicking here >>>

Chavayan, Batanes by RV Escatron
RV Escat of has singled-out Chavayan Village in the Island of Sabtang, Batanes as his choice for the quaintest place in The Philippines. RV is inflicted with a rare ailment called compulsive travel syndrome (i.e. self-diagnosis. ha!). He holds various capacities including travel writer and preschool teacher in between running the responsible travel-adventures education program of an alternative school.
He waxes prosaic-poetic on the magic of Chavayan. Upon entering the village, he writes inside his head "The back of the village is delicately cradled in the bosom of the mountains,/ its front plays intimate with the dark blue ocean. The only road to the village is through a snaking one-lane drive/ on top a hill cutting through volcanic boulders. It snakes through treacherous bend/ after bend the height of a 20-storey building then it gradually goes down, gracefully so, until it ends near where Pacific Ocean begins/ The houses here withstood the test of time and the unforgiving, albeit unpredictable weather/ ...the sky darkened/ and soon the heavens opened/ and cleansed the whole village with the unforgiving rain./ The ocean was a mist. The mountains, all gray"
Discover more about RV's quaint and time-warped Chavayan Village experience by clicking here >>>

Mainland Luzon. The largest island in the archipelago, Luzon is a treasure trove of quaint little towns and villages. The Shangri-la of the Philippines--the town called Sagada is located here.  Heritage towns Paoay in Ilocos Norte and Dupax in Nueva Vizcaya are found up North. Driving down the southernmost tip of the island is where Magallanes, Sorsogon is tucked.
Misty Sagada by Karlo de Leon
Karlo de Leon of pinned down Sagada. Aside from photography, Karlo runs consulting jobs on multimedia marketing, teaches photography at the School of Design and Arts of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, heads the multimedia ministry of Church So Blessed, runs advanced photography workshops on Travel and Low Light Photography for Photoworks Academy, and writes English stories for children’s textbooks among many others.

Karlo shares NOT about the places to sleep and dine but useful information for photographers planning to visit the charming town. If that isn't enough, he shares beautiful (for lack of better words) photos he took during his first visit "the quaint town I have chosen to feature is Sagada, Mountain Province. It is special to me because this is where I first tried out my SLR when I was starting my photography, and so I will be posting photos that I have taken that time – my first few shots, together with the information that you would want to read if you were to go to Sagada for the purpose of travel photography."

He ends his entry with a cliffhanger: "...there is more to Sagada than what I have experienced. Stories of enchanted forests and blue lagoons. Somewhere out there is a secret well kept from visitors. Secrets that are better off kept as secrets. I wish I could tell you everything, but where’s the fun in that?"

Check out Karlo de Leon's Sagada experience by whacking here >>>

Paoay by Ron and Monette
Ron Cruz and Monette of have selected Paoay, Ilocos Norte.  Ron and Monette are travel buddies and a couple of urban slaves trying to break free from the monotony of everyday life by traveling. Ron is an ambulance nurse/civil aviation paramedic and a shutterbug while Monette is a literature graduate/corporate training manage.

They share about Paoay and more "We entered the small town of Paoay and I immediately noticed silence, like someone pressed the mute button. I checked my wrist watch to make sure it wasn’t siesta. It felt like we were entering a movie set of Shake, Rattle and Roll and I was compelled to give my friends a second look to make sure I am not not with Ana Roces, Manilyn Reynes, Rez Cortes and Lilia Cuntapay."

More about their Paoay, Why Oh, Why? adventures (including the tasty empanada domination) by clicking this link >>>

Dupax by Joel Aldor
Joel Aldor of is a tour guide and an aspiring church historian. In his blog, he shares his discovery (or rediscovery) of a beautiful yet obscure town in Nueva Vizcaya. 

One fine Sunday afternoon in the convent, Joel woke up from a siesta and was planning to grab a snack when the parish priest approached him to do an impromptu walking tour with a group of university students. He shares "The very second we came face to face, I already felt their hesitation from their faces, as they thought they'll be entertained by someone much older than they are." After an exchange of pleasantries, the students were at ease. In his blog, Joel shares about his epiphany, the history of the town and the church as well as insights on religious tourism.

So, what makes Dupax del Sur different from the more popular towns in the north that the forefathers and Spanish missionaries have established? Read to know more by clicking this link >>>

Sorsogon by Gail Hilotin
Gael Hilotin of  has chosen Magallanes, Sorsogon. Gail is an anthropologist living in a corporate world. She supports responsible and sustainable tourism.

In this blog carnival, she shares about her road-trip in Luzon's gateway to the south. She writes It's drizzling on a Monday and  I'm riding at the back of  a motorcycle together with my sister, it's headlight is severely damaged. This time, the driver slash tour guide is no stranger to me. He is my biological father and he is taking us to his homeland.  He was wearing a broken helmet as we weaved our way to a secluded barrio.

But this isn't just any ordinary roadtrip. It's like entering a no-man's land. One's life will be hanging by a thread it appears. She narrates "On the other side of the mountain, a father is weeping because he is taking his son who was gunned down,  to his last destination. I know because I attended his last night and I saw his father's pain. I just came back from their house before I embarked on this road trip. I met the kid a few years back because his father used to drive me and my close friend, his older sister, to our field site, which is my father's homeland ---> Magallanes,Sorsogon.

Learn more about her adventure in the quaint town where the first mass in Luzon was held. Click here more >>>

Neighboring Islands. In the fringes of Luzon are smaller islands which are home to off-the-beaten little villages. Jomalig in the Polilio Group of Islands in Quezon Province is just one of the many. In the bigger island of Marinduque is the town called Mogpog.

Jomalig by Angel Juarez
Angel Juarez of writes about the seemingly unnoticed place called Jomalig in the Polilio Group of Islands in Quezon Province. Angel has been working in the IT industry for more than eight years. He specializes in software development, hardware and networking.

He shares "Fronting the vast water of the Philippine Sea is the farthermost island of  Polilio Group in Quezon Province, a town enveloped by quaintness and simplicity – Jomalig. An island municipality surrounded by unique golden shores of bead-like sand and turquoise water that is rich in marine life, where most locals get their livelihood. Angel adds "Time passes unnoticed in the island of Jomalig, a place which perhaps, will forever be a quaint town due to its isolation, but its quaintness is its charm that entices every soul who experienced the island to return to its golden soil."

Discover the legend that wraps the island, get more information on how to get there and more by clicking this link >>>

Moriones Festival by Marky Ramone Go
Marky Ramone Go of has the heart of the Philippines as his quaint place--Marinduque. Mogpog to be more specific. Marky started travel blogging in 2007 and has never stopped since.

He shares his holy week experience in the sleepy town of a friend. His fifth time actually in the town known for its beautiful beaches and Moriones festival.

Discover more about Mogpog, Marinduque by stopping over at Marky's blog by clicking this link >>>

Palawan and the Visayas Region. Palawan comes second in the list with two bloggers writing about quaint towns in the Philippines' last frontier--Cuyo and Roxas. In addition, San Joaquin (Iloilo), Caluya (Antique), Dumaguete and Siquijor make the cut. 

Estan Cabigas of is an avid traveler, multi-awarded blogger and photographer. He enjoys the freedom that going to places entails, both the trip itself and the destination, reveling in the many things that the act of travel offers: the sounds, the sights, the people and the flavors.

In this second edition of the blog carnival, he has handpicked the town of Cuyo, "I visited the quaint town of Cuyo, a remote town in the middle of the north Sulu Sea. Here, life is simple, afternoons are long, beautiful beaches are just a walk away and a place with a unique heritage and identity."

"Cuyo as a remote municipality in Palawan has always been a mystery to me. In 2006, I was able to visit this beautiful place for a few days as part of a heritage church book project. This 33-page download consists of 31 beautiful colored images that I have taken when I was there, presented mostly as single page spreads except where there are vertical photographs. Check this download out and fall in love with the place."

Travel through time in Palawan with Estan by clicking this link >>>  and check out the free Langyaw #02: Cuyo, a beautiful 33 page downloadable PDF photo e-magazine.

Roxas, Palawan by Josiah Sicad
Josiah Sicad of becomes an accidental tourist in a town in Palawan.

He shares “Ate magkano yan?” and the whole wet section of the local market roared in laughter. I was confused why they all laughed at my question until one of the vendors said “Akala namin Hapon ka!” which made me laugh too. Apparently, they were used to seeing foreign photographers and it was their first time seeing a Filipino with a big camera."

Discover more about Roxas, Palawan through Josiah's eyes by clicking here >>>

Campo Santo by James Betia
James Betia of is a marathon runner. He also contributes travel articles for Mabuhay (Philippines Airlines in-flight magazine) and CAB Urban Travel Magazine. He picks out San Joaquin, Iloilo as his most quaint place in the Philippines.

He shares "Overshadowed by the famous Miag-ao because of its UNESCO-inscribed church, this last town in the southernmost part of the province of Iloilo withstood the test of time. It just celebrated her 100 years as an independent municipality. Even being over-shadowed, I find San Joaquin interesting, picturesque and unusually charming."

Journey with James and learn about Campo Santo, batchoy, raffleasia and more by whacking this link >>>

Caluya by Marcos P. Caratao, Jr
Marcos Pinuela Caratao, Jr of picks Caluya, Antique. His blog offers do-it-yourself travel itineraries.Marcos is a travel blogger, nurse and freelance photographer. After he earned his university degree, he decided to make a living out of blogging (and eventually live his passion).

So, where on earth is Caluya? Marcos shares this with us "In case you’re wondering where Caluya is located, it’s an isolated town at the northern part of Antique Province. The town is composed of a group of islands approximately 36kms off the coast of Panay mainland. The most famous of the islands is Semirara, where one of the largest Coal Mine in Asia can be found. I’m sure you’re familiar with Boracay Island … Caluya is in the same area as Boracay but it’s another 3 hours away by boat from the mainland instead of the 5 minute boat ride to Boracay."

Find out the definitive guide to Caluya like trip schedule, fare matrix, where to stay and whole lotta more by clicking here >>>

Dumaguete's Rizal Boulevard by Edcel Suyo
Edcel Suyo of is a BPO professional. He picked out the city of gentle people--Dumaguete City. It is in this city also where he spent the remaining years of his high school.

Edcel shares his observation on the rugged lifestyle of the city. He writes "In Dumaguete, people wear shorts and slippers even in malls; everybody is a cowboy in their own right. It doesn’t matter if you drive the latest car as there’s very limited space to show off your vehicle. Besides, you'd get more stares from people not because of how cool your wheels are, but why you had to bring it to this town. People will gawk as if it's an alien space ship. It doesn't matter as well if your wear the best shoes as your footwear will just gather dust due to the surroundings. These are just some of the ways that describe how 'rugged' this town is."

Find out more about what makes Dumaguete City one of the quaintest city in the country through Edcel's own experience by clicking here >>>

Siquijor by Aleah Phils
Aleah Phils of is a freelance writer and editor. She has chosen Dumaguete's neighboring island--Siquijor. Larena to be more specific.

She narrates "It was a few minutes to midnight. As I slowly wove my way around Larena, Siquijor, on my way back to the inn, I wondered vaguely if it had been a good idea to refuse a ride from my “date.” I don’t scare easily, and I have walked a lot of dark streets in my time, but the combination of Siquijor and midnight, plus nobody at all on the streets aside from me was enough to raise goose bumps. However, I pushed on, noticing every single detail of the dimly lighted streets. Far away, I saw a clump of lights on a tree; I couldn't believe my eyes. It was a swarm of fireflies—the phenomenon that gave Siquijor its name!

Follow her spooky Siquijor experience by clicking this link >>>

And definitely saving the southernmost town 
(and probably in the running as one of the best!) for last:

Fung Yu of belongs to the 39-member Philippine Balangay Expedition Team which recently docked in Manila.  In the article: The expedition began September 2009, with a Philippine leg and then an Asian leg, to retrace the early Filipinos' trade routes with reconstructions of the balangay. The team sailed 12,600 kilometers from Butuan City to Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and Cambodia using ancient navigation methods, such as charting courses by watching the weather and the positions of heavenly bodies.

Venice of the PH by Fung Yu
In this edition of the blog carnival, Fung Yu gives us a glimpse of Sitangkai! "The southernmost municipality of the Philippines. With a distance of 1,100 kilometers from Manila, it is the last main island of the country (the southernmost island is Siluag near the southern tip of Sibutu). Geographically nearer to North Borneo, majority of the island’s basic needs are Malaysian in origin."

Fung Yu adds "Called as the “Venice of the Philippines,” houses are connected by stilt footbridges and boats as the primary mode of transportation; the Sama (Badjao) people lead an idyllic life with fishing and dried marine products as sources of livelihood. With an average elevation of 1 meter above sea level, getting to the “water world” of Sitangkai is an adventure in itself. 

Discover how life is like during low tide in Sitangkai and be regaled by it's natural beauty in 360 degrees by paddling your way to this link >>> click! click!

With 7, 107 islands, there are more quaint places in The Philippines which did not make it to this unofficial top pick. Do you know of any? Do let us know!

Here's hoping we've got you covered. 
Keep posted for the next blog carnival! 
Happy travels everyone!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

quaint, time-warped little village of Chavayan, Batanes!

[this blog is a part of the ongoing 2nd edition of Pinoy Travel Bloggers' Blog Carnival]


The back of the village is delicately cradled in the bosom of the mountains, its front plays intimate with the dark blue ocean. The only road to the village is through a snaking one-lane drive on top a hill cutting through volcanic boulders. It snakes through treacherous bend after bend the height of a 20-storey building then it gradually goes down, gracefully so, until it ends near where Pacific Ocean begins.

The houses here withstood the test of time and the unforgiving, albeit unpredictable weather. The afternoon I set foot in the village it was hot and muggy but a few heartbeats later, the sky darkened and soon the heavens opened and cleansed the whole village with the unforgiving rain. The ocean was a mist. The mountains, all gray.

Cebu--your gateway to a thousand journeys! (a feature on Cebu & Sinulog 2011)

Sinulog 2011! Pit Senyor!
 For starters, I love Cebu for its small city charm. And despite its smallness, it has a distinct cosmopolitan flavor to it. The discovery started at the end of my last year's journey to some of Asia's mega cities. It is small enough to drive anywhere in less than 20 minutes (of course, rush hour excluded) yet big enough to enjoy the comforts and lifestyle of a big city. Its character, aside from its birthright as center of The Philippines and therefore, built around as the gateway to all the other islands, it also has a rich history tucked in the bowels of Colon (pun intended)--the oldest street in the country.

Each January, the city streets of the oldest city in The Philippines explode with energy the color green between gold and red--from streetdancers' costumes and floats, to buntings to streamers. And the streets pulsate with a disarming festival verve. And by far, call me patronizing but the experience comes close second to none in the archipelago's 7,107 islands!

The list of things to do in Cebu is endless, so let us train our microscope to the BIG day which is set each third Sunday of January. For the uninitiated, here goes, pop your Sinulog cherries: as early as 6am, the main drag is already closed to vehicles. So the whole stretch of Osmena Boulevard (formerly Jones Avenue) winding toward Gen. Maxilom Avenue (formerly Mango Avenue) is one veritable festival junkie's paradise--body paint, henna tattoo, food stalls and what-not and everyone is in festival mood! Strangers greet each other Pit Senyor! with smiles painted on their faces.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

selling kidneys, travel addiction and other metaphors

photo lifted from here
Traveling made me understand better sex maniacs, drug addicts and serial killers on rehab. Not that I have met any of them in any of my trips. Somehow, it's a metaphor on what I believe is my bout of compulsive travel syndrome--the idea of getting restless, itchy feet and what-not if I stayed in one place for long and would do anything to satisfy it by grabbing my daypack and hop on a random bus.

On a serious note, traveling, I have realized, gave me balance. And yes, the irony is I feel grounded and at home whenever I travel.

I sold my kidney to finance my backpacking trips abroad! Just kidding.

If packing up months before a trip and getting prepped-up 5 hours before departure are any indication, I'd have to say that I discovered such passion rather at an early age. But kids look forward to adventures! I guess such passion for me was pretty normal, except that early on, there were a lot of times when I would just walk the length of a dirt road (and got bitten by stray dogs 3 times already during primary school), scale the heights of dense hills and pick wild guavas by my lonesome.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

all things Europe

All things Europe, I love!

Dis-Conformity by christian | Munich, Germany | lifted from here

No matter how boring you are Europe because you have no bad angle, I will still explore you! Love you. Live you. More! Especially now that I've found more reasons to go!

quick fix for bad hair days!

Pogi points on the road or at work.

Let's face it! There are bad hair days and there are extremely bad hair days! It's either I drive a motorbike to work or take the non air-conditioned company car. Imagine a 60-100 km/hr drive against the wind. It's just nuts! A baseball cap or a fedora hat can do the trick. But too much of it defies the law of biochemistry (sort of) and will result to baldness in the long haul (oh, well, I'd like to believe that)!

I am very particular with my haircut because I'm the type of person who just can't get away with any hairstyle. Dammit! I wasn't born cool enough to sport just any! I've migrated from my dorky mane in high school and college to the cool semi-mohawk that I sport now. By the looks of it, this style will stay with me for a long time.

a bad hair day + bedbug bites from the previous hostel! tsk!

click. click to read more

Saturday, December 4, 2010

quest for the perfect backpack

I'd like to believe (sometimes) a backpack chooses you. 

Several years ago, between ordinary summer days when one's pores seemed to rupture from too much heat outdoors, I sought comfort in a mall. In a frugal mode, I hopped from shop to shop with the intention of taking home the perfect bag for all my travels. But it didn't take me so long to let my guards down when a North Face 2-set backpack-trolley in a black number caught my attention. I wanted to bring her home with me but she was ridiculously expensive!