Expressions,Opinions & the Truth

March 26, 2010

Holy Week Journey Suggestions

Next to the Christmas holidays perhaps Holy Week is the next longest series of break that every Filipinos can enjoy each year.

Conservative people may question why some choose to have fun during Holy Week, when people are expected to make some sacrifices in commemoration of Jesus’ sufferings. In my case, I stop thinking like manangs and manongs long long long time ago. Holy Week now for me is the time when I can re-charge myself after period of being serious at work. And besides, Holy Week is not really a season to grief, but a season to rejoice because with Christ’s death and resurrection, the promise of eternal life is made close at hand to all. So have a guilt-free vacation this Holy Week.

Now if you are still wondering where to go this Holy Week and tired of going to either Boracay Island or Puerto Galera, let me give you some of my suggested places:

1) Anawangin If you like the challenge of going back to basic, Anawangin is the place for you. It is a cove in the town of San Antonio, Zambales. I have to warn you though that there is no electricity, no cellphone signal and no resort in Anawangin. You have to put-up your own tent and cook your own food. There is no room for Primadonnas in the island.

If you are into photography, you will surely enjoy Anawangin. You can also schedule a side trip to Capones Island and Camara Island when you are in Anawangin.

2) Cagbalete Island Cagbalete Island is a paradise just waiting to be discovered in the province of Quezon. Nature lovers and adventurers will enjoy the rich flora & fauna that Cagbalete has to offer. The sand bar of Cagbalete is spectacular so be sure to take its picture when the tide is low.

Jump-off point for people wanting to visit Cagbalete is Mauban, Quezon. If you need a place to stay , be sure to check-in at Pansacola Beach Resort.

3) Guimaras Island Guimaras is an island province located in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. The island is located in the Panay Gulf, between the islands of Panay and Negros. The island also boast of itself as the producer of the sweetest mangoes in the world.

Guimaras is just 15 minutes boat ride from Ilo-ilo City so if you want to experience nightlife, you can also decide to spend a night in Ilo-ilo City.

4) Siquijor Island Siquijor is an island province in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines. It is considered by many Filipinos as a mystical island due to the strong beliefs of its local to supernatural. Aside from swimming, spelunking, trekking and church hopping are some of the things that you can do in Siquijor.

To date, I consider it as the best island I have been in the Philippines.

5) Coron , Palawan Coron is one of the most beautiful town of Palawan. For the longest time, I rated Coron , Palawan as one of the top three places in the Philippines. It has the country’s cleanest lake i.e. Kayangan Lake which has a breathtaking view. Barracuda Lake is equally enhanting. It has a lot of dive spot surrounding Coron.

Words are not enough to describe Coron. You have to go there and experience it.

So there you go, pack your things and have fun in the sun.

Don’t forget to pray, it is still Holy Week anyway.

Cheers to the good life!

March 25, 2010

The Truth About My Guimaras Island Sojourn

I made a sudden change of trip itinerary when I had my vacation in Ilo-ilo City last March 12-14, 2010, and part of the changes was the inclusion of a side-trip to Guimaras Island.

I have always known Guimaras as the island which produces the sweetest variety of mango in the world. The island is located in the Panay Gulf, between the islands of Panay and Ilo-ilo.

I never have problem getting to Guimaras Island from Ilo-ilo. There is a regular boat ride heading towards Jordan Wharf (Guimaras) that leaves every 15 minutes from Ortiz Port of Ilo-ilo City. From Jordan Wharf, there are several options in getting to your resort of choice: 1) rent a tricycle, 2) rent a mulitcab or 3) ride a a jeepney. Since I am not really in a hurry, I opted to just ride the jeepney and the process saved me some hundreds of pesos.

There are lots of beach resorts in Guimaras Island. Some of the most popular are Raymen Beach Resort and Baras Beach Resort. I decided to check-in in Guisi Clear Water which is more than one (1) hour ride from the Jordan. I selected Guisi Clear Water because of the good review I have read about one of its satisfied visitor. In addition to the review, I am also thrilled to know that the second oldest light house in the Philippines is in Guisi, as a matter of fact it is just some fifteen minutes walk from Guisi Clear Water.

In all honesty, Guisi Clear Water has a very simple accommodation. Their rooms are just similar to those you will see in the provinces of Cavite but the scenery around the resort is spectacular. Their staffs are very accommodating too! I have read complaints with the staffs and management of Raymen Beach Resort & Baras Beach Resort on internet reviews so I avoided both resorts. Between good customer service and outstanding infrastructure, I go for good customer service.

Guisi Clear Water staffs didn’t fail my expectations, when I wanted mangoes they send someone out to go get some for me. When I wanted to eat squids for lunch and it was not available they did their best to get one so I can have it for dinner. Isn’t that amazing?! Guisi Clear Water should consider though to improve their rooms ( putting wallpapers/paint and installing excellent curtains can already do the trick ) and should improve the flow of water in the bathrooms. Other than that Guisi Clear Water could already be a haven for travelers.

Some of the things that one can find enjoyable in Guimaras other than their sweet mangoes are snorkeling and island hopping. A short visit to the Trappist Monastery is also suggested. There you can find some quiet moment and thank God for all your blessings. They also have a souvenir shop that sell varieties of locally produced delicacies. I personally like their mango bars!

I strongly encourage you, guys, to include a side trip in Guimaras Island in your next trip to Ilo-Ilo City. And discover Guimaras … the island that fits your taste!

February 14, 2010

The Truth About My Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010 Sojourn

Early this week, everyone seems to be busy planning where to go for the Feb. 13-14, 2010 weekend.  Everyone want to go out somewhere! Well…they have all the reasons to be excited about, because it is Valentines Day and at the same time Chinese New Year.

As for me, I was spared of the hassles of thinking where to go because as early as last December 2009 I have already decided where to go on this weekend i.e. at the 2010 Hot Air Balloon Festival at Clark, Pampanga.

Originally, the plan was that I am going there together with some officemates. Unfortunately, due to some unavoidable circumstances they can no longer make it this weekend.  And so I decided to go by myself.

Honestly, I wasn’t prepared to go there alone because I am not familiar with Clark, Pampanga.  But the sound of the adventure/misadventure of going to an unfamiliar ground never fails to excite me. Am I weird?

Armed with the sole knowledge that I have to be at the venue for the festival at 5:30 am, I started my adventure which started at Lipa City, Batangas at exactly 6:00pm.

My first task is to secure a ticket to spare me the hassle of falling in line at the festival’s venue. Unfortunately, I arrived at SM Megamall at around 9:10pm , their cut-off of selling show tickets is at 9:00pm. Grrrrrr!!!     

My second task is to catch the late night bus ride bound to San Fernando, Pampanga in Cubao. Well…that was where my friend told me to go. I was surprised to know that there are several bus terminals in Cubao and I ended up in the terminal bound to Bicol Region at 10:00pm. By then, I was already fuming mad. Grrrr!!! Luckily the security guard at the terminal taught me the right way which is in Kamuning. At around 10:45pm , I got my seat in a bus bound to Bataan. The bus conductor promised to drop me off in San Fernando.

At around 12:10am, I made it to San Fernando , and there my next task started : getting an accommodation. Where the hell are the hotels?! All of them are fully booked for the weekend. Good thing, I saw a Sogo Motel near SM  mall. At first, I was hesitant since I already know what I will see inside i.e. a long line of lovers waiting to get a room. Pero bahala na. I got a room at around 1:00am and paid for a short time rate. Hmmmm…it wasn’t a  bad experience at all, as a matter of fact I found it  a bit funny to check in at a motel by myself.  I actually spend some time in my room to take picture to capture my first motel experience. Hehehehehe

At 4:00am, I started my last task: to get to the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark, Pampanga.  With just two jeepney rides  and a tricycle ride, I made it to the venue at some time past 5:00am. People are building up already by the time that I arrived, so I skipped breakfast and going to the restroom so I can get a good spot at the site.

The Hot Air Balloon Festival did not start on time. Well, I am not surprised, I am in the Philippines! In fairness, it was delayed by only a couple of minutes, not hours. But it’s all worth the waiting when the festival started with some guys sky-diving  (including someone with the Philippine Flag) having the Philippine National Anthem as their background sound.

After which, one by one they started inflating the balloons. The view is simply spectacular! Some of my favorites hot air balloons are the beer, the farm, the sun and the turtle. There are some paragliding exhibitions and some street dancers too.

More than the show, it was equally delighting to look at the reactions of those who went to the festival. I took some pictures of the images that captured my heart during the event.

It was also nice experience to see how ordinary people interacted with some members of our armies. Too bad, I was alone. I envied those who come in groups because they had the opportunity to be taken a picture wearing some camouflage and armories.

All in all, it was a very wonderful experience. I had fun!

As early as now, I am already looking forward to go there again when they have the next Hot Air Balloon Festival on 2011.

Cheers to the good life!

February 11, 2010

The Truth About My Choices for Election 2010

If there is a day in the life of the Filipinos when both rich and poor become equal, it is on that the day they exercise their rights to elect their public officials.

Campaign period for the National Election 2010 has officially started two days ago (Feb. 9, 2010) in the Philippines. Unofficially, it ridiculously started Q3 2009 when political infomercials started to flood our television screens. It is simply crazy how one presidentiable is willing to spend more than a billion of pesos just for his infomercials. How the hell will he recover his investments?! Your guess is as good as mine.

A few weeks back, someone asked me who I will vote for this coming national election, I didn’t answer back… I am still undecided then.

But now, I am almost 90% sure of who I want to vote on May 11, 2010. With my head held up high, I will say that I am not basing my vote on mere popularity but on the following merits: their capacity to create a vision for the Philippines and their political will to execute their vision.

Given those to qualifiers, I can not really think of any other person to vote for but the forceful tandem of Sen. Dick Gordon and Chairman Bayani Fernando. Both guys, have sterling records of creating visions for Olongapo City, Subic & Marikina City. And more importantly, these guys brought their visions into reality. What the Philippines needs now are not just good rhetorical speakers…we need men of actions! We need someone who has the political will to carry-out what is right, no matter how unpopular he may look-like because he can stand for what will bring forth a long term good effect for the nation.

People hated Bayani Fernando when he waged an all-out war against the sidewalk vendors and implemented various schemes to address the heavy traffic in Metro Manila. But look at the improvements in Baclaran and EDSA now.

On the other hand, Sen. Dick Gordon is very charismatic. He has the gift to share his vision and spark up spirit of volunteerism. We need this kind of leader nowadays, someone whom we will follow without any doubt. Someone whom we can be confident enough, to be willing to work for without even thinking of anything in return.

Sadly, I know the tandem of Gordon & Bayani does not have a very strong chance of winning in the 2010 Election, because Filipinos have the tendency to go for the candidate who most likely to win. Everybody wants to side with a winner. Damn culture! Very frustrating! But I am not joining their band wagon, I will still go for the candidates who I believe the Philippines truly need. My candidate may not win the coming election, but I can have a sound sleep knowing that I did make the right choice.

I appeal to all voting Filipinos of today, let us vote for who we think can positively affect our nation. Let us take time to hear our little voice within, our conscience.

February 2, 2010

The Truth About Pansacola Beach Resort in Cagbalete Island

I first came to learn about Cagbalete Island from an article written by Gibbs Cadiz in Philippine Daily Inquirer Lifestyle Section. Mr. Gibbs vividly narrated his experience to the still “unexploited” Cagbalete Island. His article created a spark of fire in me …longing to experience Cagablete Island as well. Unfortunately, due to a very tight schedule last year, I wasn’t able to make it to Cagbalete Island on 2009, but I promised myself that I will see her on 2010.

And so after some months of delay, I finally make it to Cagbalete Island last weekend (Jan. 30-31, 2010). Honestly, I underestimated the task of getting there since I have been to farther and more remote places in the Philippines than Cagbalete Island.  But I was WRONG! To my great surprise it was a whole lot challenging. For one, there are only two schedules of sea transfer to Cagbalete Island : one is at 10:00am, the other at 4:00pm. If I miss it, I will have to rent a boat which eventually cost me more. So as early as 5:00am, I am already traveling to Lucena City where the terminal for the buses bound to Mauban, Quezon is located. Mind you, the buses are non-airconditioned and are moving at a very slow phase. There are airconditioned vans at SM Lucena, but it takes century to get filled-up. It will wait until 10:00am before it leaves Lucena City, you can pay the van Php 900.00 and it will bring you to Mauban in less than an hour but why pay more when regular bus only charge Php 50.00 to Mauban. 

At Sabang Port, there are two big bangkas : Neneng & Anthony … I wonder if they are boyfriend-girlfriend. I rode Anthony because it was bigger. Unfortunately, they are putting a big colored plastic material infront of the Bangka so we don’t get wet but because of the big plastic I wasn’t able to see the view of the sea during my travel. At Neneng, the plastic is translucent so you have opportunity to see the view. 

There are two resorts at Cagbalete Island: Pansacola Beach Resort and Villa Cleofas. Three weeks ago, I contacted Villa Cleofas through their email account in the net and immediately I received an email from Mr. Ed Jacob, unfortunately after stating that I might be just alone, I never hear from him again. I guess, I am not worth it … I am just one customer. Too bad! Fortunately, I found in the internet that there is Pansacola Beach Resort in Cagbalete Island, I called up the number and I was entertained by Ms. Fe who referred me to her husband Mr. Rommel who in spite of being alone, I was treated well. They are ANGELS! 

Honestly, I was a bit scared on how Pansacola may looks like, because not much information is there in the net about them. So when I got to Mauban, I asked people around which is a better place to stay at Cagbalete: Villa Cleofas or Pansacola Beach Resort? Three out of the three people I asked answered that Pansacola is a better resort. Whatta relief! And true enough, it was a good place! I got a house with two rooms plus a loft which normally cost Php 3,000. The resort owner, Mr. Rommel politely asked me though if I could just use one of the room so the other two guests can get the other room. How can I say NO to a very polite request and the opportunity to meet new friends. He then just charged us Php 1,000 for each room. The best part of the story was that my housemates availed of Pansacola’s meal package which I encourage everyone to avail. Pansacola’s serving was big enough to serve a family of four. Can you imagine serving a whole crispy pata , paco salad, inihaw na isda and leche flan for two guests? My housemates whom I now consider friends shared their food with me. Ang sarap!!! 

I spent the rest of the day chatting with Signet and Cheng (my housemates), taking pictures and occasionally looking at their very serene-looking beach. Shortly, before the sun set I got myself a sweddish massage at the loft of the house. The view of the sun setting from the window of the loft while getting a massage is magical. The massage costs Php 250 and when I asked the masseur how much part of the Php250 goes to them, the masseur answered back Php250. Unbelievable! Little by little I am gaining so much respect for the resort owner. At night time, bonfire was set for the guests to enjoy. Like a kid: Signet, Cheng & I  alternately posed at the bonfire. Sometime in the evening, Mr. Rommel Pansacola set a videoke machine for his guests to enjoy at no cost at all.  He also joined his guests on a videoke session that night and surely he can carry a tune. He toned down the volume after 10pm which the guests understood. From time to time, we talked about the humble beginnings of Pansacola. He honestly answered all my question even the most controversials one. 

In all objectivity, I will say that while Cagbalete Island is not the best island that I have been in the Philippines, but my experience at Pansacola Beach Resort is one that I will truly remember for years to come. As a matter of fact, this is the very first time that my beach resort experience upstaged my island sojourn. 

I will definitely comeback in Pansacola Beach Resort in Cagbalete Island.

January 18, 2010

The Truth About La Virginia Resort & Hotel

They say that charity begins at home. With that framework in my mind, I started my exploration this 2010 in the province of Batangas, a place which I already considered as my home for the last five years.

If you are looking for a weekend getaway that is not too far from Manila, yet want to have a refreshing experience then La Virginia Resort in Mataas na Kahoy , Batangas is the perfect place for you.

The resort is surrounded by coconut groves and offers a breathtaking views of Taal Volcano Island. For photo enthusiasts, every corner is a perfect background for picture-taking. Honestly, the child inside me was temporarily unleashed and I competed with my friends in getting myself photographed.

The resort has five world-class swimming pools and a heated Jacuzzi for family and personal fun. There are also numbers of hotel accommodation and picnic facilities within the resort. But one thing that I really appreciate in my tour in La Virginia Resort is the availability of “restrooms” around it. I am sure in one time or the other we all experienced falling in line in restrooms in most resorts, I don’t think that it will be your problem when you visit La Virginia Resort.

I can actually put my integrity as an explorer at stake that you will have a wonderful and relaxing experience if you pay La Virginia Resort & Hotel a visit.

Getting to La Virginia Resort & Hotel:

Take a bus bound to Batangas City via Tanauan-Lipa route, and get-off at Robinsons Lipa. Ride a jeepney bound to Bayorbor or Nangkaan and tell the driver to drop you off at Longos. From Longos, you can just get a tricycle ride to La Virginia Resort & Hotel.

Rates:

Entrance fee is P200 for kids and P300 for adults. This is inclusive of the use of swimming pools.

Some Useful Information for Guests:

Touring hours for inquiries are from 7:00pm – 5:00pm; Swimming hours are from 6:00am to 10:00pm only; Pool users must be in proper Swimming Attire; Video rentals are for 10 hours and until 10pm only; Function and Picnic Facilities are for 12 hours and until 10pm

Things to Do at La Virginia Resort & Hotel:

Swim , play basketball , play badminton (outdoor) , silence your soul , meditate , enjoy the view , take pictures , take pictures , take pictures.

Contact Information: Tel. Number (Resort) : 043-703-2145 Tel. Number (Manila Office) : 02-743-2047 Email Address: lavirginiaresort@yahoo.com Website: www.lavirginiaresort.com

Disclaimer: This is not a paid ad.

January 4, 2010

The Truth About My Dumaguete-Siquijor Island Sojourn

Much has been said about the island of Siquijor, but the most popular (or unpopular) of it all is the belief that the island is inhabited by mangkukulams (witches) and mambabarangs. My youngest brother also mentioned about “sigben” , a goat-like animal that walks upside-down which has been believed to be mangkukulams’ pet.

I always wanted to go to Siquijor Island, but I don’t want to go there alone. But this year, I promised myself that I will spend my Christmas Holiday there, no matter what. So as early as September 2009, I already purchased my airfare ticket to Dumaguete City so I can schedule a side trip to Siquijor Island.  And also as early as September I have been convincing my friends to join me in my sojourn, but all of them have their own excuses. So with just myself, I flew to Dumaguete City on Dec. 26, 2009. Siquijor is just a 45 minutes boat ride from Dumaguete via Delta Fast Ferry.

Prior to going to Siquijor Island, I took a 1 ½ day to explore Dumaguete City. With just a motorbike and a driver, I spent a day tour to Dumaguete City and the nearby town of Valencia.  Mind you, the motorbike rent is just Php 20.00 per hour (but you have to pay for the gasoline) while you can give the driver any amount that you decide without any complaint coming from them. Some nice places to visit are Sulliman University, Dumaguete Bellfry, Forest Camp and Casaroro Falls (in Valencia). For nocturnal people who likes to party, there are three places you can go: Roxas Boulevard, Hayahay and Gimmick Bar. Please set your standard a little lower if you come from the big city. But I tell you, talking to locals will be a great experience. They are really good!

If you are traveling to Siquijor Island, try to catch the earliest Delta Fast Ferry ride at 6:00am because the next trip is 9:00am. How did I know? I missed the 6:00 am trip! And I can’t forgive myself for that. Every minute counts, when you are in Siquijor Island.  There are so much to see, so much to explore … from churches to caves to falls to beach resort and more!

Ironically, there are a lot of churches within the island.  As a matter of fact the biggest convent in Asia i.e. St.  Isidore Labradore Church & Convent is in the town of Lazi in Siquijor. I also took time to check on the oldest tree in Siquijor which is a century old Balete tree. I also checked the Cambugahay Falls but I found the Casororo falls lovelier. You should not miss the Coco Beach Resort! It is really attractive and they serve good food. I had halang-halang native chicken and beef sinigang (which surprisingly taste like no other sinigang). One of my greatest surprise is the public beach of Salagdoong. Honestly, it doesn’t look like it’s a public beach. There is a rock formation there that looks like Willie’s Rock of Boracay Island. There are still so much that I missed on my 6 hour of stay in the island so I really have to go back to get to Mt. Bandilaan and Caves exploration.

Too bad, I listened to the many advisories in the internet suggesting tourists to leave the island before night falls. It really affected my decision not to stay for a night in the island, but I will definitely be back in Siquijor… sometime soon!

With no exaggeration, I will say that I have fallen in love with the beautiful island of Siquijor.

September 20, 2009

The Truth About the Mayweather – Marquez Fight

Filed under: Sports — edcelmbalicusto @ 7:37 am
Tags: , , ,

Floyd Mayweather Jr. made a successful return via his fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. It was a good 12 round boxing bout.

My dad was right when he told me before that in a match between a brawler and a boxer, the boxer usually emerge as a winner.

Watching the match, I can not help but to feel for Juan Manuel Marquez. Honestly, I believe he has shown more desire to win the match than Mayweather. Floyd Mayweather’s grin after receiving some punches from Marquez was annoying. Mayweather was equipped with psychological arsenal and he was really fast. Marquez on the other hand never gave up and has displayed a warrior’s heart up to the last minute of the game.

boxers

Floyd Mayweather is undoubtedly a strong force to beat.

No wonder Manny Pacquiao is giving a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight a lot of thinking.

September 15, 2009

The Truth About My Mission

Something weird happened last Sept. 10, 2009 to me. I woke up at a very unholy hour of dawn because of a very strong impression going in circles inside my head. It was a call to pray for the Philippines. I do not know what got in me but the idea was pressing too strongly in my heart that I decided to get up and work on a plan. 

It is not really a big thing. It is just that something deep inside me wanted to start inviting people to pray for the Philippines. You may think it was weird, but I am one big believer of the Philippines. In spite of everything our country had gone through I always believe that time will come again that the Philippines will regain it greatness. And so with so much love for the Philippines, I decided to start my personal crusade which I tagged as “Light a Candle, Say a Prayer, Love the Philippines”. 

Starting last September 11, 2009, I will start going around the Catholic Churches and pray for the Philippines. I will also leave in each churches an envelop containing a candle, a rosary and a short letter that explains what the crusade is all about.  In my letter, I have asked the one who will find it to offer a prayer for the Philippines. I also requested them to send me a text message or an email after offering a prayer. This will help me track the number of prayers offered for the Philippines. 

So far, I have gone to two churches over the weekend: Baclaran Church (in Manila) and Sto. Nino Church (in Cebu). This weekend I will pay a visit at the Basillica of Immaculate Concepcion (in Naic) and St. Andrew’s Church (in Bel-Air). 

Honestly, I have received only one reply so far among all the first few envelops I planted last weekend, but I am not disheartened. Having convinced one family to pray for the Philippines is enough motivation for me to continue my crusade. 

Long Live the Philippines!!!

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September 7, 2009

The Truth About My Disappointments Over the Special Holiday Declarations in the Philippines

To say that I am disappointed over the recent special holiday declaration in the Philippines will be an understatement. I am terribly disappointed as a matter of fact.

I have no problem if the President wishes to sympathize with the mourning of all the Iglesia ni Kristo for the loss of their much loved Ka Erdy Manalo. I am a non-Iglesia ni Kristo but I also offered a prayer for the loss of a great man of God.

What I am really disappointed about is that the declaration was made in such a very late hour of Friday giving the management team of each company a dillema on how to communicate it to their people. And to top it all, come Saturday another declaration was made to annouced that BPOs and Electronics industry were excluded due to the request of DTI Secretary Peter Favila.

Since when do we allow one industry to be exempted to a Special Non-Working Holiday declaration. Will it not make a precedent that in the future any industry will also do the same? What’s going on in the mind of our government? Who ever made that decision should have lifted it to all as the goverment sometimes do that (announcing a special non-working holiday pero may pasok), rather than excluding a certain industry.

Simply put, it was an insane declaration of a special non-working holiday! Another Malacanang booboo!

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