Friday, April 20, 2012

easy Sunday on a weekday at Sunday, 2pm Cafe

The name of the cafe caught my eye at first glance. But the interior, playful and artsy, definitely was the deal breaker.

The name: Sunday, 2pm carries with it a certain mystery. Is it open only during that day and time? I checked out the place to find out.

It was a muggy Thursday afternoon when I stopped by the cafe.

The design and ambience is reminiscent of hip cafes in Korea's Hongdae District: playful, fresh, artsy and laid back. The concept, though relatively new, was introduced already in Cebu a decade ago with book cafes like Book-o-bar and my all-time favorite Pitcher Plant Joos Bar.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

dolphin hooked in the neck! (plus hunted hammerhead and tiger sharks)

A few minutes earlier, the horrible photo below appeared in my timeline!

I was extremely mad! I then checked the source of the photo and it led me to a facebook account of a guy named Nhoy Tasara with address in Casiguran, Aurora, Philippines. It appears that the guy works for a big  fishing vessel.

I explored his albums (apparently open to the public) and found not only photos of the pierced dolphin but photos of sharks, tuna and blue marlin as well. These are the striking photos I found:

hammerhead shark
the rare oceanic sun fish
tiger shark 
As technology increased and demand for the resources remained, catches far exceeded the sustainable limit for whale stocks. In the late 1930s more than 50,000 whales were killed annually[2] and by the middle of the century whale stocks were not being replenished. In 1986 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling so that stocks might recover. 
Key elements of the debate over whaling include sustainability, ownership, national sovereignty, cetacean intelligencesuffering during hunting, health risks, the value of 'lethal sampling' to establish catch quotas, the value of controlling whales' impact on fish stocks and the rapidly approaching extinction of a few whale species.--wikipedia

Hay naku! The group behind this should be locked up in jail! Calling DENR, World Wildlife Fund, PETA and all marine conservation groups!

2nd Annual SNUPS SPLASH-NUDI Underwater Photo Shootout

The 2nd Annual SNUPS SPLASH-NUDI Underwater Photo Shootout is happening in the following dive spots on these dates:

  • Mactan, Cebu on April 20-24, 2012
  • Anilao Batangas on May 4-8, 2012

Over US$15,000.00 worth of prizes of underwater photo gear up for grabs in the following categories:
  • Beginner
  • Compact
  • Open Class
Pre-register to join at

Roxy Siargao International Surfing Cup 2012

Daring young women who loves competitive surfing, this news is for you!

Roxy Siargao International Surfing Cup is happening first week of May in one of the world's best surfing spot--Cloud 9, Siargao Island, Philippines!

Roxy International Surfing Cup, sanctioned by Asian Surfing Championship (ASC) with Ultima Event Rating, will take place on May 1 to 4, 2012. A total prize money of P300,000.00 is in the pot! Happening also on the same week is the Women's Beach Volleyball on May 2-4, 2012 with P50,000 total prize money.

Surfs up!

For details and inquiries please contact:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

three foreign airlines moving operations to NAIA Terminal 3 next year

Good news to international travelers!

Cathay Pacific, Delta Airways and Emirates are the three foreign airlines which are moving their operations to Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA T3) beginning next year.

According to Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez in an interview by ABS-CBN the transfer will significantly reduce congestions at the terminals.

Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said Delta Airways, Cathay Pacific and Emirates will be joining the local carriers currently operating at NAIA-3. 
"Pag bukas na yung NAIA-3, makakalipat na yung ibang airlines so luluwag na yung NAIA-1," Jimenez said. 
Jimenez said the government is sprucing up NAIA-3 faster than it is doing with NAIA-1 to facilitate the transfer. But he pointed out that both airports should be running at optimum capacity by next year.--lifted from

At present, the controversial (and mothballed) NAIA T3 is home to local budget carrier Air Philippines Express and Cebu Pacific Air as well as international carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA).

Kawasan Falls temporarily closed to the public

The Department of Tourism Central Visayas has issued an advisory that Kawasan Falls in Badian town, Cebu is closed to tourists for a week.

Yesterday, the demolition of illegal structures in the vicinity of Kawasan Falls started (a day after Gov. Gwen Garcia's deadline to remove the illegal structures).

Looking forward to see the restored Kawasan Falls in a week or two (sans the ugly cottages)!

Monday, April 16, 2012

whale shark research volunteers needed in Oslob. food & lodging will be provided

Do you consider water as your second skin? Do you have the passion to work with the gentle giants of the ocean? An international NGO is looking for volunteers at its Oslob (Cebu) Whale Shark Research Initiative. The organization will provide food and accommodation.

the ocean as office, the gentle giants of the sea as friends
3 weeks
12 hours per day (including being in the water for 6 hours)
one enriching experience of a lifetime!

Here are the details for the volunteering opportunity with Physalus!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

direct flights between Hongkong and Kalibo (Boracay)

Straight from a shopping frenzy in Hongkong Central or from a pub crawl in Lan Kwai Fong (or simply just transiting in Asia's World City), either way travelers can now fly direct to Aklan--home of the world's best beach: Boracay!

oh, well. plus an hour for bus and banca transfers! but still! 

Beginning this month, Philippine Airlines (PAL) will start the direct flights between Hongkong and Kalibo.

In a statement released by Philippine Airlines (PAL) in its website, it says that the twice-weekly flights utilizing PAL bi-class Airbus 320 is aimed at further boosting market demand for Boracay: 
Tourists who visit Hong Kong will soon just be a short plane ride away to the world-famous, fine sand beaches of Boracay as Philippine Airlines (PAL) opens a direct Hong Kong-Kalibo flight starting April 27.

PAL flight PR289 leaves Hong Kong every Tuesday and Friday at 1:20 PM, arriving in Kalibo at 3:50 PM.

The return flight, PR290, departs Kalibo at 4:50 PM, arriving in Hong Kong at 7:20 PM.

Special introductory fare for round-trip, economy tickets is being offered at 1,350 Hong Kong dollars.

Only PAL offers Business class and full service on all its narrow-body fleet of 14 A320 jets.

For bookings and inquiries, visit the PAL website – or call PAL Reservations at 855-8888.

From Kalibo Airport in Aklan Province, it takes about 30-40 minutes to get to Boracay Island (More or less 30-40 minutes by car to Caticlan Jetty Port plus10-15 minutes crossing by boat).

Vietnamese illegal poachers arrested in West Balabac, Palawan

Swimming with sea turtles has been one of the most amazing things I've done. One time, one sea turtle looked at me straight in the eye! That simple gesture sent a warm and fuzzy feeling inside me.

I support each chance I get to preserve these critically endangered critters. Imagine the horror to see a photo of what appears to be dead sea turtles piled on top of each other!?!

Ramon Mitra who apparently witnessed the arrest took the photo which is now spreading like wildfire in facebook. Mitra wrote:
Illegally caught critically endangered turtles from West Balabac (Palawan) being unloaded by captured Vietnamese fisherman just now in Tide Pole Navy Base (Puerto Princesa City). 
Here's the screenshot:

Urgh! Reclusion perpetua for these illegal poachers!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

accepted fellows | 51st Silliman University National Writers Workshop

I gravitate toward uniquely crazy people. Artists. Poets, Fictionists. Writers. There's something about them that fires me up or makes me move like the clouds.

Summer in Dumaguete is the time of the year when I get to meet big names in the Philippine literary scene. And if I get lucky enough, I get to have my copy signed by these writers, too.

with Butch Dalisay and Cesar Ruiz Aquino
Meanwhile, these are the young writers who made the cut for this year's Silliman University National Writers Workshop. Congratulations! 

National Writers Workshop Director-in-Residence Rowena Tiempo Torrevillas and Silliman University are pleased to announce that the following writers have been accepted as fellows for the 51st Silliman University National Writers Workshop scheduled on April 30-May 18, 2012 at the Silliman University Rose Lamb Sobrepeña Writers Village, Camp Lookout, Valencia.

For Poetry
CD Borden (University of San Carlos)
Deborah Rosalind Nieto (University of Santo Tomas)

For Fiction
Michael Aaron Gomez (Silliman University)
Thomas David Chavez (Philippine Normal University)
Michelle Abigail Tiu Tan (Ateneo de Manila University)
Christian Tablazon (University of the Philippines–Diliman)
Timothy James Dimacali (University of the Philippines-Diliman)
Ma. Vida Frances Cruz (Ateneo de Manila University)

For Creative Non-Fiction
Hazel Meghan Hamile (University of the Philippines–Mindanao)
Zendy Victoria Sue Valencia (University of Santo Tomas)

For Drama
Karlo Antonio David (Ateneo De Davao University)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New U.S. Visa Fees to Take Effect April 13

The Embassy of the United States in the Philippines has announced that starting April 13, 2012, new visa fees will take effect for both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas to the United States.

The statement said that fees for all immigrant visas, as well as those for fiance/fiancee visas and trade/investor visa will decrease. However, fees for non-immigrant visa will increase, including tourist, business visas, and student visas.

The reduction in the immigrant visa fees is due to a new U.S. law that allows the U.S. Department of State to seek reimbursement from other federal agencies such as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. 
U.S. embassies must collect higher fees for tourist and other types of nonimmigrant visas because U.S. law requires the Department of State to recover the costs of processing those types of visas.  The new fees more accurately reflect the costs of visa processing services as determined in a U.S. government study completed last December.  
Visa application fees paid before April 13 at the prior rate will be honored through July 12, 2012.  Starting on July 13, 2012, applicants who had paid application fees at a prior rate will have to pay the difference between the prior rate and the new rate.  For visa categories that have reduced fees effective April 13, no refunds will be given to those who paid the fees before the effective date. 

New Schedule of Fees:
  • US$140.00 non-immigrant visa (including tourist, business visas, student visas, crew members, media/journalist, exchange visitors and other visas)
  • US$150.00 petition based visas (employment or trainees, persons with extraordinary ability, artists, entertainers, international cultural exchange and religious workers)
  • US$350.00 fiance(e) or spouse of US citizen category visa

Description of Service and Fee Amount (All fees = $ in US currency)

Filing an Immigrant Visa Petition (When collected by U.S. Embassies and Consulates for USCIS. Fees subject to change.)
Immigrant petition for relative (I-130)$420
Orphan (intercountry adoption) immediate relative petition  (I-600, I-800)
Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fees (non-refundable, per person) 
Immediate relative and family preference applications(processed on the basis of an approved I-130, I-600 or I-800 petition)

Employment-based applications (processed on the basis of an approved I-140 petition)
Other immigrant visa applications (including approved I-360 self-petitioners, special immigrant visa applicants, and all others, except DV Lottery selectees)

Certain Iraqi and Afghan special immigrant visa applications

connecting Europe to the sea of Japan by railway thru Trans-Siberian Train

Hold your breath: Manila-Kuala Lumpur-London-Paris-Brussels-Cologne (traveling across Germany-Poland-Belarus)-Moscow-(crossing Siberia) Ulan Bator-(crossing Gobi Dessert)-Beijing-Lhasa (Tibet)-Beijing-Qingdao-(ferry) Incheon-Seoul-Busan-(ferry) Fukuoka-Osaka-Manila 

I am fascinated with long train rides. A ride that takes a week or longer, perhaps. Not only because of the steady and leisurely pace these rides bring, but I am also drawn to the clickety-clack sound it makes as the train rolls by the track.

If lovers of these slow and sappy train rides are hopeless romantics then I am guilty as charged. I imagined long train rides to be like the ones I see in movies. Old world charm. Cramp bunk beds but with a window that empties to a vast and beautiful countryside.

At dinner, everyone is dressed to the nines and head out to the salon (though modest in size, the tables have elaborate cutlery and offers full course meals). Nothing short of grand.

In this time and age, just when most people thought the Orient Express mystique does not exist anymore, it still does. It's very much alive! The iconic train ride starts in Singapore and will snake its way to Bangkok. From Bangkok, the journey continues until Chaing Mai or Laos. Rate starts at around P100,000.00 for Pullman Superior/Single or P150,000.00 for State Cabin. Rates are per person and inclusive of table d'hôte meals, complimentary tea or coffee and sightseeing tours. Wishful thinking lang muna.

Two years ago, in two separate occasions, I actually traveled the distance by train (not via Orient Express, though I wished it was) from Thailand to Malaysia for forty three awesome hours: Chaing Mai to Bangkok and Bangkok to Butterworth (Penang) and then from Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur.

Though it didn't come close to the Orient Express experience, it was an amazing ride nonetheless. For one, it saved me two nights worth of hostel bills. I also met interesting travelers on board (majority of the passengers were local). Above all, it fulfilled my childhood dream of taking one long train ride. That leaves me now with only one epic train ride in the pipeline.

Adventures in the Trans-Siberian Railway 
A story waiting to be written in my travel journal is the Trans-Siberian train ride. Could it be an adventure or romantic comedy? I'm still clueless. One thing's for sure though, it's going to be epic (and it doesn't come close to an Orient Express comfort).

The Trans-Siberian train connects Europe to the Far East. More specifically from Moscow to Mongolia and China. Even up to North Korea. But the adventure I have in the pipeline actually begins in London and ends in Japan. That's how epic it's going to be. And the budget, as it appears, is going to be epic, too.

The Route
Manila-Kuala Lumpur-
London-Paris-Brussels-Cologne (traveling across Germany-Poland-Belarus)-Moscow-(crossing Siberia) Ulan Bator-(crossing Gobi Dessert)-Beijing-Lhasa (Tibet)-Beijing-Qingdao-
(ferry) Incheon-Seoul-Busan-(ferry) Fukuoka

The Trans-Siberian Railway, the third longest continuous railway service in the world, connects large and small cities in the European and Asian parts of Russia spanning 9,259 kilometers across 7 time zones. It takes 8 days to complete this journey. But my journey does not start in Moscow and it might take months on end.

There are actually three Trans-Siberian train routes: Moscow to Vladivostok, Moscow to Beijing and Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia. The Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia is arguably the best route to take.

In the pipeline, I will take the train from London to Moscow. Then transfer to the Trans-Mongolian Railway before I take the ferry to South Korea then to Japan. I got loads of information about this trip from

But of course, a visit to Tibet! I wouldn't miss it for the world!

As I said, it's an epic journey! So, instead of saving up for a condo unit and a brand-new red convertible volkswagen beetle, you have an idea already where my savings (if there's any. lol) will go! Skyflakes and instant noodles for the win! haha

Train rides. How it feeds my imagination. And it continually does. Until the next jackpot!

What's your ultimate destination (aside from heaven or hell. just kidding)? 

Whether they've been there already or the dream is still in labor pains, 
Filipino Travel bloggers share their stories
exclusive for the 18th Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival hosted by Robbie Bautista of

first three photos courtesy: oriental express

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

new fees for whale shark watching in Oslob, Cebu

Whale watching fees in Oslob will increase four days from now! Foreign visitors will pay double.

If the Oslob town council resolution will be approved during the hearing today, the proposed new fees for whale shark watching in Oslob will take effect on Saturday, April 15, 2012. While locals will pay the same rate, foreigners will have to cough up more cash if not double.

The present rate is P300.00 for whale shark watching plus P50.00 for snorkeling and P50.00 for diving.

The new rates, if approved, are as follows:
  • whale shark watching from the boat 
    • P300.00 (locals) P500.00 (foreign visitors)
  • 40-minute snorkelling 
    • P500.00 (locals) P1,000.00 (foreign visitors)
  • diving 
    • P600.00 (locals) P1,500.00 (foreign visitors)
Oslob residents will still enjoy the heavily discounted rate of P30.00 for adults and P12.00 for children.

In a report by Cebu Daily News:
Oslob Mayor Ronald Guaren said the current P300 fee “is too affordable, so anyone can swim with the whale sharks.” 
“We are very concerned about the safety of the whale sharks, so we decided to increase the fees so less people would come,” he told Cebu Daily News.

Nini Cabaero in her column Beyond 30 in Sunstar Cebu said:
The price increase, local officials have said, are meant to limit the number of visitors. But having to pay more does not guarantee quality visitors or those who can understand simple instructions. 
With a fee increase, there is still no assurance that abusive practices on whale sharks will be stopped and the welfare of those who wish to enjoy the beauty of the sea and its creatures will be prioritized.
for more, click here:  

Monday, April 9, 2012

bridge spanning 17 km. to link Cebu and Bohol

Fancy a quick drive to Bohol from Cebu?

stock photo. source
In 1999, I pitched the story on the proposed Mega Construction of the Cebu-Bohol bridge for a special project (Broadcast Journalism class). Though it did not get the nod of the lecturer, I still pursued whatever news value it had. It landed in my Cebuano Journalism class project under Mr. Nick Ampatin where it got a few minutes airtime value in a late night radio show at ABS-CBN dyAB.

More than a decade later, the news about the bridge hogs the local news once more. The bridge called Cebu-Bohol Friendship bridge will span the 17 km. distance between Cordova in Cebu and Getafe in Bohol.

According to the report by June Blanco of the Bohol Chronicle, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has endorsed the Bohol-Cebu Multi-access Friendship Bridge to the Korean Economic Development Cooperation Fund (KEDCF).

In his letter to Cong. Erico Aumentado, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said he wrote to KEDCF Director of Co-financing Jong-Kyu Park technical assistance (feasibility and business case studies) for the project, the report added.

click here for more

Saturday, April 7, 2012

guard shooing person with mental disability out of San Pedro Cathedral, Davao

It's the tail-end of Holy Week. I am on my way to do my visita iglesia. But before I hit the gas, I just want to share my two cents worth on a burning issue: yesterday (Good Friday), a guard was photographed poking a rattan stick to a shirtless man with mental disability inside San Pedro Cathedral in Davao City apparently to drive out the said man.

screenshot of the viral photo from the facebook page of a certain Karlos Manlupig, the photographer

The full caption read:
FILTHY HYPOCRITES. As I was shooting in Davao City's San Pedro Cathedral during the observance of Good Friday, I noticed a Tagalog speaking man instructing this security guard to throw out a half-naked man who is silently kneeling and praying inside the church, saying that the churches in Manila prohibit persons with mental disabilities and vagrants to enter its premises. The security guard then assaulted the poor man without any warning poking him in the ribs several times using a "ratan" truncheon...I immediately took several burst shots of the detestable incident. Suddenly, an old man with a Bible in his hand tapped me on my shoulder and told me that it is improper to take photos of the incident and that it is also improper to take photos inside their heavenly church. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE??? Tama si Dong Abay. Banal na aso, santong kabayo. (Copyright: Karlos Manlupig) NOTE: I opted to post this blurry picture to preserve the identity of the victim.

My two-cents? In the end, it's really all about poor judgment and lack of willpower. Did the photographer ever rectify the guard or tell the guard's superior that what happened was awfully wrong? In the age of social media, most people will just run to twitter and facebook and rant about the situation rather than confronting the issue (this kind of issue) head on.

Friday, April 6, 2012

charming Tres Sophias Resort in Panglao Island, Bohol

Tres Sophias Resort in Panglao Island offers guests charming garden cottages with five-star beds!

Promo rate this summer is Php2,400.00 only Php1,850.00 (good for 3 pax)

Amenities inside the fully-airconditioned cottages include:

  • one double bed and one single bed
  • flatscreen cable TV
  • personal refrigerator
  • ensuite toilet and bath (plus a bathtub)
  • hot and cold shower

The resort has a huge swimming pool and a wading pool for the little ones. There's also a fully stocked bar.

Located along the highway in Barangay Dau in Dauis town, Tres Sophias Resort is a few minutes drive from Bohol Bee Farm and Green Grass Roof Restaurant. The long stretch of white sand beach in the coast of Tabalong is just close by.

If you are looking for a charming accommodation in Panglao Island in Bohol, this resort is for you.

For bookings and reservations, please call (+63) 0917.304.1910 or email: 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bryde's whale spotted in Bohol

  “With the banca engine off, the huge whoosh of breath could be easily heard across the water,”  Ponzos on his experience sighting the Bryde's whale 

photo source
The news lifted from Bohol Standard says that a group of marine biologists and researchers caught sight of a Bryde's whale calmly feeding off-Pamilacan Island in Baclayon town.

Bryde's whales are large whales that feed primarily on plankton and small fish and are seen in tropical or subtropical waters with abundant fish supply.

The group led by Dr. Alessandro Ponzos spotted the same Bryde's whale for two days. Ponzos is a marine biologist connected with Physalus-LaMaVe or Large Marine Vertebrate Project--an international marine research project based in Jagna, Bohol. Ponzos said that the sighting lend hope that the Bryde's whale population may be making a comeback.

Bryde's whales were heavily hunted until the 1990s in the sea off-Pamilacan Island in my home province Bohol.

Here's an illustration showing how huge a Bryde's whale really is:

The closest encounter I had with the Bryde's whale was in Silliman Marine Laboratory. And it was a skeleton! If that counts. Now, I am looking forward to see the real thing!

I found the cheapest way to Bohol from Cebu (1 hr 15 mins for only P200)!

I rediscovered again the cheapest (and probably the shortest) way from Cebu to Tagbilaran City in Bohol!

Today (Maundy Wednesday), the crowd is expected to swell after breakfast, so I arrived early at the ferry terminal (pier 3). No long lines. No sweat.

This is not the boat. Silly.
How's that even possible? The answer: Cebu-Tubigon-Tagbilaran. Travel time is only one hour and fifteen minutes for boat ride plus one hour v-hire.

For this trip, I paid only two-hundred  (P200.00) for Cebu to Tubigon (Bohol) plus P90.00 for the v-hire Tagbilaran fare!

Fastcraft from Cebu to Tagbilaran (Supercat, Oceanjet or Weesam) takes an hour and 45 minutes. Fare wouldn't go lower than Php500.00 (unless there's promo).  For an hour more and a fraction of the fare from the convenient Cebu-Tagbilaran route, the alternative Cebu-Tubigon-Tagbilaran route is definitely the cheapest deal around.

This is the Php200.00 fully airconditioned economy accommodation:

For P25.00 more,  one gets to stay here at "deluxe" economy. Same legroom, less noise.

P280.00 for wider legroom and lesser noise, first class accommodation at the upper deck:

If you insist that you really have to take the ride because you are in a rush, this area is for you. Al fresco.

lady in green: I farted! What's funny, ha?!?! Palag ka, tumbling ka ron!
lady in sleeveless: *giggles*

One hour and fifteen minutes later, the ferry docked at the port of Tubigon. The local "sugar loaf" mountain greeted me. Hi mountain!

I took the tricycle (P10.00) to the v-hire terminal at the town center

In no time, the v-hire (P90.00) sped off to Tagbilaran City for the one-hour drive.

trivia: A decade ago, due to stiff competition, the boat fare from Tubigon to Cebu could go as low as Php50.00 ha! Ambilibabul! Yes.

 total expenses (Cebu-Tubigon-Tagbilaran):

  • boat fare (Cebu-Tubigon) P200.00
  • terminal fee P10.00
  • tricycle (Tubigon pier to terminal) P10.00
  • v-hire (Tubigon-Tagbilaran) P90.00
    • total: P310.00

Here are ticket rates and schedule for Cebu-Tubigon, Bohol via M/V Sea Jet:

Happy travels~