Sunday, November 23, 2014

Going to Bantayan Island The Convenient Way

Bantayan Island is located in the northern part of Cebu.  To get there, if you are from Manila, you will be using all modes of transportation: via air, land and sea.  You will need to book first a flight from Manila to Cebu.  Then from Cebu, you will ride a jeepney or a cab from the airport to go to the bus terminal where it is headed to the Hagnaya port where you will ride a ferry going to Bantayan Island.  If you compute for the time in all these modes of transportation, it will take you about 8 hours just to get to Bantayan Island.  This includes waiting time from the airport (about 2 hours).  Once in Cebu, travel time takes about 5-6 hours including waiting time.

An easier way to go to Bantayan Island is via rented van, private vehicle or taxi.  Of course this will entail additional and more expensive cost.  But if you are a group, the share of expenses will be lighter.  And if you are press for time with no worries about additional cost, then you can opt to ride these.

Getting a taxi or rented van will take you only 2 hours travel time from the airport to the port.  Another 1 hour for the ferry ride going to Bantayan Island.  All in all, that's only 3 hours!  Aside from you will get there easily, you will not also feel tired.  Its just like traffic in Manila, haha!

Anyway, I made this separate post particularly in getting to Bantayan Island the convenient way is because I wanted to share the contact details of our taxi driver.  I prearrange taxi transport service with Anika Island Resort (where we stayed in Bantayan Island, blog post to be uploaded soon) as they provided the cheapest taxi transport service I found.  Normally, the cost is Php 3,000 per way from Mactan Airport to Hagnaya port.  Some even charge as high as Php 4,000 (according to ad post in olx.com.ph).  The lowest I inquired was at Php 2,800 then I found Php 2,500.  Finally, Anika Island Resort told me that their charge is Php 2,000 only per way and payable to the taxi driver directly!  That's already cheap!  At least for us.  Because Air Asia moved our flight to a not so early morning, we wanted to maximize our time and at least arrive in Bantayan Island by lunch time.

Mr. Jimmy Pacifico is our taxi driver.  We learned that he not only caters transport service to Anika Island Resort's guest but to several resorts and hotels as well.  He can even take the passengers to Maya port (pickk up point going to Malapascua Island) at a cheap rate of Php 3,000 one way and even to the port going to Camotes Island.  He's a very jolly man and with safe driving skills.  We never encountered any problems while riding his taxi.  He does not own the taxi but I'm not sure until when will he be driving it since we learned that his son will soon be working in Singapore and part of their plan is to have their own taxi company so maybe later on he will no longer be the driver but the owner of the taxi.

Just to know how affordable his Php 2,000 rate is, he turned on the meter reading on our way to Hagnaya port.  The meter read Php 1,100+, not a lot difference from his rate to think that he will still go back to Cebu City with no more passengers.  We also asked him to fetch us from Hagnaya port going to Shangri-la Mactan on our 3rd day in Cebu.  Again, he turned the meter on.  Once in Shangri-la, it read Php 1,500+.  Again, he has no passengers on the way to Hagnaya port.  So we thought, his rate was really reasonable.  We handed him a tip for a very safe and convenient ride.

You may contact him at 09176961523.  Just tell him that one of their passengers from Anika Island Resort last October 24 recommended him to you.  I'm not sure if still remembers us but for sure we will never forget him.  We will get his service again on our next trip to Cebu, maybe going to Malapascua Island.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Taiwan Excellence: Made to Enjoy Christmas Contest



Christmas is generally the celebrated and anticipated season for most Filipino.  This is the season where people exert extra effort in giving special gifts, sharing their blessings, setting up reunions and holding Christmas parties.  With Christmas just almost a month away, people have surely prepared something for someone or even for everyone around them.  Other than birthdays, people treat Christmas as one of the most important event where they would give something extraordinary and memorable gifts to those people close or special to them.

It is good to know that Taiwan Excellence, producing quality Taiwanese products, recognizes the importance of Christmas to Filipinos that is why they are offering a one of a kind gift giving where you can get any of their products of your choice for free!  How?  Through the Taiwan Excellence – Made to Enjoy Christmas Contest.

Taiwan Excellence – Made to Enjoy Christmas offers wide range of products for different people which could provide them with an excellent lifestyle.  There’s Acer, Asus, BenQ, and MSI for IT related products; Pacifica, Strida and Tern for bicycles; HCG, Teco, Tatung and Sakura for home and living products; Miacare and Microlife for health and medical products and many others.  These products have Taiwan Excellence Seal which is known to provide quality, reliable and innovative products.

To get any of these products for free, just register at http://www.MadeToEnjoyTheLife.ph and select a Taiwan Excellence item you wish to give as a gift to your special someone.  Upload your photo and share why you want to give the chosen Taiwan Excellence gift to your selected recipient.  Ten (10) winners will be selected to receive the chosen Taiwan Excellence gift and one (1) of them will have the opportunity to have their gift delivered by Taiwan Excellence Celebrity Endorser in the Philippines, Iya Villania – Arellano.

The best part in joining this contest is that no initial purchases required in entering or winning the contest.  You can even share the Taiwan Excellence – Made to Enjoy Christmas to your family and friends.

The contest runs from September 28, 2014 until November 23, 2014.  So hurry! Register now to get that special gift to your love ones for free!

Taiwan Excellence’s theme, Excellent Lifestyle is a campaign launch in the Philippines by one of the organizers, Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), a non-profit, semi-governmental trade promotion organization in Taiwan.

*Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Discover Products of Taiwan through Taiwan Excellence


With the emergence of e-commerce and online shopping, people around the world have now plenty of choices in buying products that they like and access to numerous products and services across the globe.  However, one cannot guarantee the quality of the products posted online.  A thorough research on the background of the product or manufacturer maybe needed or even a product review to determine that you are getting your money’s worth in buying their products. 

Good thing there are several countries that exert extra effort in making sure their products are of good quality and passed through rigorous quality assurance process to ensure the high satisfactory rate of their consumers.  Such country is Taiwan where one can discover products of Taiwan through their Taiwan Excellence entity.

Taiwan Excellence is a campaign established in 1992 by the Taiwan government to promote Taiwanese brands that guarantee high quality and value products.  These products go through a screening process to determine whether they will pass a high standard quality for them to bear the Taiwan Excellence Seal.  But how would they qualify a certain product to be of high quality?  You may wonder.

Any Taiwanese brands who wish to have a Taiwan Excellence Seal are entitled to join this campaign.  Their products can fall any of the categories such as fashion, information technology, arts, culture, transportation, sports, home and living and many others.  An international panel of judges will evaluate the products based the following criteria: Research and Development, Design, Quality and Marketing Strategy.  A score per category will be given on each product.  After thorough evaluation and computation of scores, selected products can now carry the Taiwan Excellence Seal which they can use locally and internationally.  People will now be able to discover products of Taiwan through Taiwan Excellence.

Further distinctions are given to selected products who can be awarded a Silver and Gold Recognition Award.  Thirty products will be selected among the winners.  Only ten will be given the Gold Award, which is the highest recognition in the Taiwan Excellence campaign while the rest are given Silver Award.

In the Philippines, where various brands competition are emerging in the market particularly in terms of price, many consumers wonder which of these brands will give more value to their money.  Since Taiwan Excellence campaign was first launched in the Philippines early this year, now Filipinos can be assured of quality products of Taiwan brands such as Asus, Acer, HTC, BenQ, KingCom, MSI, Transcend and many others.  Filipinos will now have the confidence in buying these products because they pass through a rigorous screening process in obtaining a highest form of quality seal. 

The campaign, with a theme of Excellent Lifestyle, will not only benefit Filipinos of good quality products but will also let them recognize how these products will enable them to have an “excellent lifestyle”.  With about 56 Taiwanese brands with Taiwan Excellence Seal launched in the Philippines, these products provide consumers with innovative and state of the art products which will aid them in their day to day activities whether at home or at work.  One will surely discover products of Taiwan through Taiwan Excellence to be having good quality product that does not only give value for money but provide meaningful use of the products in their lives as well. 

*Disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post.
 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Ocean Jet: The Fastest Ferry

Well my title on this blog may be biased as I haven't really tried all the ferries here in the Philippines.  I'm more referring to our experience in riding a ferry boat to and from Dumaguete/Siquijor.  We arranged our ferry transfer care of Coco Grove Beach Resort, as initially instructed to them, I told them we prefer a ferry boat that is the fastest going to Siquijor from Dumaguete.  Since I do not have any idea on the various ferry boats available and its schedule, I let Coco Grove decide.  You can check my previous blog on the ferry schedules they have provided me.

From the schedule they provided, it seems that GL Express is the next ferry that could take us to Siquijor for just an hour.  We will be arriving in Dumaguete at around 8:30am so their 10am schedule is just right.  Ocean Jet is listed but their schedule is 1pm, already too late.  When we came back here in Manila, I read from Girltalk forum that Ocean Jet have early schedules, like 9am, from Dumaguete to Siquijor but the port will be at Lorena, which is quite far from Coco Grove Beach Resort.  But there was no such schedule indicated in Ocean Jet's website so I'm not sure if that's true.

Dumaguete Port
Jay Lann Jeziel
As mentioned in my review on Coco Grove resort, they bought ferry tickets from Jay Lann, with an hour and 15 minutes travel time.  But in reality, it took us 1 hour and 30 minutes! I am used to long ferry travels like going to Camiguin from CDO, to Caramoan from Naga and to Calaguas from Daet.  But maybe I expect a short travel time to Siquijor that I really got bored and almost pissed.


So by the time we asked again Coco Grove to book us a ticket in going back to Dumaguete, I make it clear to them that we wanted the fastest ferry, whatever the its cost is, and they offered Ocean Jet.  That time, I'm not really familiar again with the various shipping lines but I told the receptionist that we do not want to ride Jay Lann again.  Our schedule was at 2pm so we settled at the lobby area before 1pm.  Coco Grove's jeepney service will drive us to the port.

Siquijor port going to Ocean Jet

This is the Ocean Jet

Seeing the Ocean Jet, we were quite relieve as it is bigger and air conditioned!  We thought even if the travel time will be again longer, at least we will be relaxed with its quite comfy seating and of course the air conditioned ferry.  But to our surprise, it took us only less than 1 hour to arrive in Dumaguete port.  That was fast!  With that, we learn to love Ocean Jet!

Picture before boarding
I wasn't able to take a lot of pictures inside the ferry but aside from it has air con, comfortable seats, it also have LCD TV and rest rooms.  I wasn't able to check if the rest room is clean.  The ferry was quite big and life vest was already provided under the seat.  The ride was smooth sailing, you wouldn't even feel the waves, if there was any or maybe because it wasn't strong at that time (it was summer!).

Inside Ocean Jet
Ocean Jet operates mainly in Visayas and a few routes in Mindanao (Cagayan de Oro and Camiguin - I didn't know this before).  They offer various class to suit the passengers' preference and budget.  With their motto: "taking you there fast and easy", with our experience, it was indeed a fast travel, convenient, safe and easy.  I will surely take note of this the next time I needed to travel by sea in the Visayas region.  Check their website for the schedules and rates.

Enjoy traveling!

Review: Coco Grove Beach Resort

If you've been reading and following my blog posts about Siquijor, its this famous resort, Coco Grove Beach Resort that made us stay longer and extend for another night in Siquijor.  I maybe exaggerating but arriving at Coco Grove mad us feel at home with its relaxing by the beach ambiance.  The scenery and long stretch of white beach captures our hearts together with its friendly staff that made us decide to stay longer.

mini cottages

relaxing at their hammock

As mentioned in my previous blog, our initial plan was just to stay overnight since according to my research, Siquijor can be explored in half to one day.  Our plan was to tour Siquijor after having lunch at the resort (we expect to be arriving at the resort by lunch time) then swimming the following morning at the resort.  But maybe because of the long and quite exhausting travel from Dumaguete port to Siquijor (about 2 hrs including waiting time) and the beauty of the beach, we decided to just relax on our 1st day.

We availed Coco Grove's transfer service from pick up at Sibulan Airport in Dumaguete, getting ferry tickets bound to Siquijor port and going to their resort.  If you prefer DIY, Sibulan Airport to Dumaguete port is just about 15 minutes travel time via tricycle, which are easily available outside the airport.  From the port, several ticket booths for ferry boats are available.  You may refer to my previous blog on various ferry boat schedule.

Upon arriving at Sibulan Airport, we easily spotted Coco Grove's van to take us to Dumaguete port.  It was care of Coco Grande Hotel, Coco Grove's sister company.  Arriving at Dumaguete port, we waited a little while in the van while the driver bought us ferry tickets.  During my inquiry with Coco Grove, I specifically requested for a ferry boat that will not take more than an hour travel time to Siquijor.  The ticket we had was for Jay Lann Jaziel.  The travel time took us 1 hour and 30 minutes! But nevertheless, the staff of Coco Grove Beach Resort greeted us upon arrival at Siquijor port with refreshing wet towels and bottled water.

Aboard their improvised jeepney, the lady staff briefed us a short background of Siquijor as well as features of Coco Grove Beach Resort.  We passed by some tourist spots along the way which the lady staff also briefed its history.
Capilay Spring Park


St. Francis of Assisi Church




About 15 minutes, we finally arrived at the Coco Grove Beach Resort.  Refreshing drinks were again served and the front desk staff quickly assist us in our check in reservations.  There were tour offerings posted at the reception area, including Apo Island tour and Siquijor tour.  Similar to their website, their tour offerings have minimum number of pax required.  That's why I just ignored it during the time I was researching about Apo Island tours.  But what's attractive to Coco Grove's tour is that they are the ones who will be completing the number of pax required for every tour.  They do this by inviting every guests if they would like to avail the tour.  This is another reason why we decided to extend our stay for another night at Coco Grove.  Since we do have plans of going to Apo Island once we get back to Dumaguete, we thought it will be more convenient for us to avail Coco Grove's tour to Apo Island at Php 1,600 per pax all in.  This already includes lunch and snorkeling gears.  The tour will take up 1 whole day.  Quite expensive than DIY but it is very convenient.

We reserved for a Deluxe room at Php 3,100.  I initially requested for either Frangipani or Sunset Villa (you may check here the location of the rooms at various rates) but they told me that the room availability is dependent upon our arrival at the resort.  But we were surprised that they upgraded our room to Executive room and still at Deluxe price!  That's another attractive point in this resort that we were more eager to extend another night.

We stayed at Plantation 4, room #37.  It was a very spacious room.  Our only concern is that, signal for phone and wifi is very weak inside the room and a slight signal at the veranda.  See below for pictures of our room.

The bed with mini ref

Quite big room

View of veranda


Garden view from veranda

The toilet

Separate toilet and shower
I like their bathroom with separate toilet and shower.  It is also very spacious!  Being only a 3-star hotel, no other toiletries were provided except for toilet tissue.  But that wasn't really a big deal for us as we always brought our own toiletries.

The coffee table; Far right on the picture is their bamboo closet

Our comfy and clean bed

The way to our room

The Plantation Rooms

Stairs going to our room

Free books to read.  Our room on the left with bf peeking

Like in any hotels, keys have magnetic cards attached to it where you need to place it near the switches inside your room to turn on/off the air conditioning unit.  Since it was summer, we wanted our aircon to be running all the time but unfortunately, we cannot separate the card to the key.  But nonetheless, even if it is summer, the aircon is functioning well.

Coco Grove's location reminds me of our stay in Pimalai Resort in Krabi, Thailand (haven't finished my blog about this).  The vast area has several rooms along the way with lush greens in the surroundings which makes it a nice sight seeing adventure while you are walking to or from your room.  You will also pass by several pools, restaurants and even souvenir shops.


This is one of their pools with mini bar

This is near the pool, i'm not sure if its also a bar

The resort have 2 main restaurant: Sunset Restaurant and Salamandas Restaurant.  The pool also have a mini bar though I'm not sure if they are serving foods and drinks there since we didn't try it.


The mini bar at the pool

Sunset Restaurant

Salamandas Restaurant

The resort is also expanding.  I believe come December, new buildings and hotel will already be operational.

And because we had a very relaxing stay at Coco Grove Beach Resort, we were not able to tour Siquior as planned.  I will relate in my next blog about our Apo Island tour care of the resort.  We also ask the resort's assistance to book ferry tickets for us back to Dumaguete on our 3rd day.  This time, I clearly told them that we want a faster ferry going back.  They book our ticket from Ocean Jet.  You may check my blog about our experience with Ocean Jet here.

Overall, I recommend staying at Coco Grove Beach Resort if you are in Siquijor.  Just staying here is already relaxing: A blissful vacation away from the hustle and bustle of stressful Manila.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

An Unexpected Event During My Boracay Trip

My boyfriend and I visited Boracay again last weekend.  This time, the inclusive dates falls on our 27th monthsary.  Though we no longer celebrate our monthsary, this time was different because we decided to celebrate it by dining in a good restaurant in Boracay with sunset view.  That's what I thought on how will our monthsary day go, I was wrong.  My boyfriend has something else on his mind.

During our stay in Boracay, its somehow cloudy but the sun was still appearing from time to time.  For 2 days, we were able to see sunsets though on the 2nd day, it wasn't full sunset view as it is still cloudy.  On our (3rd) day, the sun didn't even peek all throughout the day.  Since we plan to dine with sunset view, I asked my boyfriend if he still wants to push through with having dinner in a good restaurant even without the sunset and he still persists.

We had our dinner at Friday's Boracay.  It was the usual dinner but my boyfriend kept on informing me to go back at our resort at a specific time.  He reasoned out that he might experienced upset stomach from eating a lot which equates to visit to the restroom.  I agreed so I just finished my dinner.  During dinner, I can't recall how our conversation went to the topic of trust.  He said, he read that one test to prove that a person trust you if you blind folded him/her and he/she will entrust you to lead the way to wherever your destination is.  While we're heading back to our resort, he insisted that we try that blind folding thing so he would know if I trust him.  I declined since its already dark, being blind folded will even make me feel so dark. I even joked that if he likewise trust me, he let me just close my eyes without any handkerchief on my eyes.  After some convincing, I agreed.  Besides, we will start from Willy's Rock all the way to our resort.  That's just quite a few steps away.

And so I was blind folded.  When we were stepping up, I knew we were already at our resort.  I asked why I still can't remove my blind folds.  My boyfriend just keep on telling me to wait.  He held both my hands firmly and started saying stuff about our relationship.  In my mind, I don't have the slightest idea that he will propose.  Maybe he's just professing his love.  I even teased him that he's too sure that I'd say yes, without me really knowing that he was already proposing.  He said that he already asked God for signs if I'm already the one and He showed smooth sailing in our relationship.  He even joked that he also asked help from Batman with our relationship (from "bahala na si Batman" expression of most Pinoys).  From there, he asked me to remove my blind folds.  I turned and saw sand "castle" with my name and the words, "Will you marry me".  I was surprised.  He knelt down and asked my hand for marriage.  Of course I said yes.



Now that explains why he kept on asking me the time of our dinner as well as the time we will be back at our resort, to give ample time to the resort's staff in building the sand "castle".  For your information, bulding sand castles in Boracay is already forbidden as it makes the sands dark when lit with candles.  I found out that my boyfriend's initial plan (well he's now my fiance) was to rent the paraw withe words "will you marry me" on each paraw.  It was quite expensive according to him so he resorted to building sand castles with my name and he will propose while the sun is setting.  But unfortunately, the sun didn't show up that day.  Besides, after talking to barangay officials and asking for permission in building sand castles, they still didn't permit it.  They will permit it with a fee of Php 2,000 but it is still not yet guaranteed.  So he asked for the help of the resort's staff.  Even if building sand castles is still not permitted, the resort staff build it right in front of their resort.

I do not have even the slightest idea that he will propose.  I was really surprised.  And he even had an engagement ring for me!  He often tells me that he can't afford the ring yet as it is expensive and he have other obligations and plans to fulfill personally which disables him to save up for the ring.  But all of these were just a bluff.  He bought the ring 2 months before and he really planned to propose during our trip to Boracay, and during sunset!  He knows I love sunset.

It was indeed an unexpected event to what I thought would simply be a vacation.  It has become a very memorable vacation, to a place I love, the beach. 



Thank you for your time in reading this far.  I hope you got "kilig" with my proposal story.  I am now engaged. :)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Budget Accommodations in Boracay Station 1 Beachfront

The whole stretch of White Beach in Boracay Island is divided into three (3) locations, namely: Station 1, 2, 3. All these locations offer various accommodations from budget inns to high end and luxurious hotels.

Station 1 is always perceived to be having posh and high end accommodations especially if you prefer staying in beachfront resorts.  But this blog post will prove it wrong.  Being a budget traveler, I will list down a few beachfront accommodations that I have recently researched in Boracay Station 1 that cost at most Php 3,000 per night, good for 2 pax.  By the way, the rates are off peak.  Price changes during peak season.

1. Blue Lilly Villa
- Php 2,900 Standard room with breakfast
- www.bluelillyvilla.com
- 09179178540; boracaybluelillyvillaresort@yahoo.com.ph
- quick response through text

2. True Home Hotel
- Php 3,000 Superior room with breakfast
- www.truehomehotel.net
- contacted through contact form from their website
- no response; inquired room availability through other sites like agoda

3. Little Prairie Inn
- Php 3,000 Standard room w/o breakfast
- FB page: Little Prairie Inn Boracay Beach Resort
- inquired through FB messenger
- 036-2886100/09487896447

4. Watercolors Dive Resort
- Php 3,000 Deluxe room with breakfast
- www.watercolors.ph
- 09985541675

5. Boracay Plaza Resort
- Php 3,000 Standard room with brealfast
- www.boracayplaza.com
- 036-2883702

6. Blue Waves Beach House
- Php 2,000 Standard room with breakfast
- www.bluewavesboracay.com

7. Las Brisas de Boracay
- Php 3,000 Deluxe room with breakfast
- www.boracaytrinidadresorts.com/abtlasbrisas.htm

8. Sun Villa Resort and Spa
- Php 2,620 Standard room
- FB page Sun Resorts Boracay

9. Boracay Coco Huts
- Php 2,824 Standard room w/o breakfast
- from agoda and booking.com

The first 5 resorts are very near to each other.  Going to station 1, you will first pass by True Hotel, then Blue Lilly, Watercolors, Little Prairie and lastly Boracay Plaza Resort.  They are just beside each other.

Blue Waves is located at northern part of Station 1, nearing Fridays.  Las Brisas is also at northern part but nearer to Two Seasons.

Sun Villa and Boracay Coco Huts are near to each other, also near Astoria Hotel.

It's also helpful to check agoda, travelbook and tripadvisor websites for promo rates and reviews on these resorts.  From those posted above, I've only inquired from the first 3 resorts.  I have considered Nigi Nigi Too as they have an ongoing promo rate at about Php 3,100 per night.  Other beachfront resorts that is a little more than Php 3,000 per night are Residencia de Boracay and Royal Park Hotel.  The last time I was in Boracay, we stayed at Willy's Beach Club for less than Php 3k per night on a peak season.  That was a promo deal from My Boracay Guide.  Well, that was year 2012.

We've decided to stay in Blue Lilly Villa.  Will blog about our experience here once I get back from Boracay.

Enjoy Boracay!