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Sunday, January 27, 2013

My Sale Find: Bayo

For the past months, Bayo has been holding their sale which were really great finds.  I was able to buy a very nice blazer for 50% off last year (November).  Their sale continued up to January this year.  This time, its their end of season sale which will last until January 31.

I'm not really a big fan of Bayo but I do check them out from time to time, most especially when they have a sale.  I remember buying a good pants from their sale for just Php 350, which was about 70% off from the original price.

From their end of season sale, there's not much items on sale especially at their relocated store in the new Glorietta mall.  The items were mostly the same as those items on sale last November.  But nevertheless, I kept on coming back even if I wasn't able to buy anything.  But yesterday, I was so lucky to grab a great find from the same store and branch.  I was really looking for a denim jacket because I saw one look from some site that it looks good when paired with a dress.  An instant semi-casual get up!  This is what I found.

This washed demin jacket is cropped in style with a little feminine touch at the bottom of the sleeves.  It has an extra eyelet fabric in cream color which somehow tone down the ragged look of this jacket.  It was the only denim jacket I saw from the sale rack and luckily it was size small.  The original price was at Php 1,995.  I asked the sales lady if it is part of the sale since there's no 50% off sticker on its tag unlike all other items on the sale rack.  She told me that its 50% off.  Well, I will be paying about Php 1,000 then.  Quite a bargain considering its a denim, although I had a little hesitation since I wouldn't want to spend a thousand for just one item.  Heck, I still went to the cashier and bought this jacket.  To my surprise, it appeared in cashier's computer that it is only Php 250!  A real great find!  Even the cashier told me that it was really a bargain.  That was almost 90% off!  I think I would never find a denim jacket at this price! I'm so happy I bought it even if I have hesitations at first.

Visit Bayo's end of season sale which is on going until January 31, 2013.  I might also find a real bargain and be a lucky shopper like me who grabbed an item at almost 90% off.  Happy shopping!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Boracay Expenses: My Last Beach Trip for 2012

In case you missed my previous blogs, I've relate to you why Boracay, my last beach trip for 2012, was extra special trip for me.  I've also blogged about my review on our accommodation in station 1, Willy's Beach Club Hotel.  In this blog, you will find an updated expenses on my last Boracay trip dated Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, 2012.  This may somehow give you an idea on the expenses to be incurred in Boracay in case you are planning for a beach trip here soon.

The rates below are good for two or specified otherwise:

Airfare (Mla-Caticlan-Kalibo-Mla) - Php 3,000
NAIA terminal fee - Php 400
Tricycle from Boracay (Caticlan) Airport with boat ride - 100
Caticlan Port terminal fee - Php 200
Environmental fee - Php 150
Cagban Port tricycle to Willy's Beach Club Hotel - Php 100
Willy's Beach Club Hotel Accommodation - Php 5,700 (Php 2,850 per night for Deluxe Room)
Lunch at Smoke - Php 325
Ice cream - Php 37
Water - Php 35 (one big bottle)
Dinner at Willy's Beach restaurant - Php 280 (pasta dish, I forgot the name but its cream based/white sauce)
Beer at Willy's Beach restaurant - Php 160 (2 bottles of Red Horse for bf)
Day 2 Lunch at Smoke - Php 355
Snack at Willy's Beach - Php 280 (big burger with fries + drinks)
Day 2 Dinner at Arya - Php 386.52
Choriburger - Php 40 (just 1 burger for me)
Water - Php 35 (one big bottle)
Beer at Cocomangas with peanuts - Php 170 (2-3 bottles of Pale Pilsen, I think)
Tricycle from hotel to Cagban port - Php 50 (ordinary fare)
Van to Kalibo with boat ride - Php 400
Cagban port terminal fee - Php 200
Kalibo terminal fee - Php 80
Pasalubongs (snacks) - Php 285
Pasalubongs (shirts) - Php 700
Others - Php 120

Total expenses - Php 13,588.52
Per person - Php 6,794.26

Not bad for a station 1 stay.  In my observation, if you want to stay in station 1, you also need to prepare and bring extra money so you can dine in the restaurants within station 1.  Food here can be quite expensive. 

Willy's Beach Club Hotel: A Review

My friends and I wanted to have a very relaxing Boracay vacation: no water activities, just enjoying the sun, sand and sea.  As mentioned in my previous blog, this is my friends and I's first time in Boracay as a group.  We've been to other beaches all over the Philippines but never in one of the famous beach destination in the Philippines, Boracay.  I've also mentioned in my previous blog why this was a special trip.  One of which is our accommodation in station 1.

For many times I've been to Boracay, I've always stayed in station 2, where you can find budget but safe accommodation.  I've stayed in La Carmela, Tan's Guesthouse and Island Nook.  It doesn't matter to me before whether the resort is beach front or not.  My belief then was, who needs a fancy accommodation when most of the time you will stay outdoors in the powdery white sands of Boracay beach?  But my belief changed when I experience staying in station 1.

My friends' choice for an accommodation in station 1 was Two Seasons Resort.  A family room good for 7 pax cost about Php 5,000+ per person for 3 days, 2 nights stay.  This is quite expensive for me and my boyfriend that's why we backed out.  So my friends got the Two Seasons package good for 5 at Php 6,000 per person for 3 days and 2 nights care of Traveldotcom.  This includes buffet breakfast and transfers.

My budget for station 1 accommodation is Php 3k-4k per pax for 3 days and 2 nights stay.  I was eying for White House Boracay since it is beach front and with pool.  And I'm hoping to get a discount from my sister (if she'll be the one to book in my behalf) since she frequents in White House whenever her family stays in Boracay.  I inquired from Travel Online since I've searched that they are offering packages to Boracay inclusive of breakfast, lunch and dinner at an affordable rate.  Then I came across My Boracay Guide website where hotels are arranged per station and according to price.  That's where I checked Willy's Beach Club which can fit our budget.  My boyfriend told me that it doesn't matter whether our hotel have pool or not since there is the beach where we can swim even at night.

I've searched both My Boracay Guide and Willy's Beach Club Hotel website to check on their rates.  My travel period of Nov. 29 is considered as peak season in Willy's Beach website while it is still off peak season at My Boracay Guide website.  So I chose the latter to book for our accommodation.  Although it is my first time to book from My Boracay Guide and haven't read any feedback on their booking capability, I didn't feel any hesitations as their site has been existent for quite a while.  Besides, My Boracay Guide only requires 15% downpayment from the total amount due.  So it's quite cheap.  Full payment will be done in the hotel.  Also, their online chat facility makes it easy to communicate with them and you'll get instant answers to your queries.

I got the Deluxe Room at Php 2,850 per night from My Boracay Guide.  In Willy's Beach Club website, the rate on my travel date would be Php 5,010 per night.  Great savings!  I just wonder why their description of peak and non-peak are different.

Willy's Beach Club Hotel - Deluxe Room

Willy's Beach Club Hotel - Deluxe Room

The Deluxe Room in Willly's Beach Club Hotel can accommodate up to 3 people.  But upon our arrival to our room, I was surprised that the room is very spacious.  It can even accommodate up to 5 pax, I think, but the hotel only allows up to 3 pax in this room.  The bed is queen size and the spacious room can add 2 single extra beds but again, only 1 extra bed is allowed.  The room has veranda although ours is perpendicular to another room which results to "sharing" of veranda.  The veranda have seats and tables good for two where you can lounge.  It also have clothes line where you can hang your clothes to dry.  But since our veranda seems to be "shared" with the other room, the clothes line available is only 1. 

Veranda at Willy's Beach Club Hotel

As described in both websites, our room have an ample air conditioning unit, mini bar, vanity dresser, cabinet, safe, cable TV, hot and cold shower and telephone.  Their shower/bathroom area is very clean and complete with toiletries, towels and glasses.  The queen size bed is clean and pleasant with decorative mini pillows.  The overall room is clean.  Wifi is available in the hotel however the signal gets weak once we entered our room. 
Sink and Toilet for Deluxe Room
Shower area for Deluxe Room

I forgot to mention that when we arrived at Willy's Beach Club, we were greeted with seashells necklace and a cool, refreshing drink.  The staff were friendly and accommodating during our whole stay.  We had minor problems with our TV when we got there as it won't open and the response from their staff is quick.  Their room key is attached to a beaded bracelet, a great idea so you won't loose your key.
Our welcome souvenirs from Willy's Beach Club Hotel
 Our accommodation includes buffet breakfast.  During 2 breakfast stay, the food served were different on both days.  It may not be a lot but sufficient to anyone's consumption.  They served a mix of Filipino and American dishes with fried rice, breads, jams, dried fish, bacon, eggs and many others.  The taste of the food is just normal, nothing extravagant but edible.  Again, the staff were very friendly.  We also tried eating at their restaurant during snack time where we tried their pasta and burger.  The pasta tastes good and the big burger was truly big enough good to be shared.

Fronting the hotel are monobloc loungers.  Free towels can also be acquired before you stay at the lounge.  Their staff can also assist you in setting up umbrellas once you decided to lounge.  We left some of our things in the loungers for quite some time while we swim and visit our friends in Two Seasons.  Luckily, our stuff didn't get lost.

The Loungers fronting the hotel

with Willy's Rock in my background
Overall, I enjoyed my stay with Willy's Beach Club Hotel.  The famous and picturesque Willy's Rock is just in front of this hotel so camwhore-ing is at its finest!  I would want to go back here the next time I visit Boracay again.  And oh, I'll change my belief.  I would want to stay always in station 1 because of its relaxing ambiance and beach front accommodations.  Though staying in station 1 will definitely need a good amount of money (in case you do not want to walk going to station 2 just to eat) since most of the restaurants here are quite expensive too, it doesn't matter as you will definitely enjoy the quiet, intimate ambiance offered by station 1 accommodations.

You may check this blog for my expenses on this Boracay trip.

Boracay: My Last Beach Trip for 2012

I can no longer count the times I've been to Boracay.  But this Boracay trip is extra special for the following reasons: 1) My first plane trip with my boyfriend, 2) I'll be staying in station 1, 3) I'm traveling together with  my kaladkarin friends.  Let me explain further the reasons I've mentioned.

First Plane Trip with Boyfriend
I booked this Boracay Trip as early as February.  That time, my kaladkarin friends wants us to have an R and R vacation in Boracay.  When Cebu Pacific had its seat sale, we grabbed the opportunity and booked our trip one way to Boracay.  By July, Cebu Pacific held its sale again.  So we checked if Boracay to Manila is on sale and fortunately it was.  I already had a boyfriend that time although our relationship is still new.  Without hesitation (and even without his consent), I booked his flight as well, same time as mine.  My friends were teasing me that I should maintain my relationship with my boyfriend until November so as not to make my booked flight gone to waste.  Well, fortunately, our relationship is still strong as of this writing.

Surprisingly, both my boyfriend and I treat this Boracay trip as a first timer trip with someone special.  Yes, I have been traveling without any boyfriend ever even if I had one before.  Same with him.  Most of our travels are with friends.

Accommodation in Station 1
Station 1 is known for having expensive accommodations.  Since my friends initially decided to have this as an R and R vacation, we were determined to stay in station 1 with nice accommodation that will truly make you feel relaxed.  Of course, our priority also is a beach front accommodation in a nice and quiet area.  My friends decided to stay in Two Seasons.  It is quite expensive so my boyfriend and I decided to stay in a bit cheaper accommodation, so we stayed in Willy's Beach Club Hotel.

This is my first time to stay in station 1.  Eversince and everytime I am in Boracay, I always stay in a cheap but safe accommodation like in La Carmela, Tan's Guesthouse and Island Nook.  My belief before is that, you'll be spending most of the time at the beach so why spend much for an accommodation?  Well, I was wrong about that.  It's a different experience staying in station 1.  I'll relate that in my next blog.

Boracay with Kaladkarins
My kaladkarin friends and I traveled to many parts of the Philippines already.  But the one famous beach destination we've never been to was in Boracay.  We've plans of traveling here countless times but it won't always push through.  Well, its quite true when they say unplanned trips are those pushing through.  That's what happened with this Boracay trip.  As I've mentioned before, when Cebu Pacific held its seat sale, we just decided then and there to book our next trip in Boracay.  And so here we go.  Next stop - Boracay!

If you could recall in my previous blog about my Boracay trip earlier in 2012, I've mentioned that that was one of my best Boracay trip.  Well, this Boracay trip is another best experience for me.  It is truly a wonderful experience traveling with someone you love.  The beach in Boracay never fails to make me fall in love over and over again with it and this time I shared it with someone close to my heart.

Check out my next blog relating to my experience in staying at an accommodation in station 1.  Also, check this blog for my Boracay expenses.

People's Park In The Sky Tagaytay

People's Park in The Sky is one of the famous destination in Tagaytay.  It is said to be the Marcoses' unfinished retreat house constructed in preparation for John F. Kennedy's visit to the Philippines.  People's Park in The Sky was previously known as Palace in the Sky.

It is situated atop Mt. Sungay which is the highest point in Tagaytay.  With its location, one can get a 360 degrees view of Tagaytay, including Taal Lake, Manila Bay and Laguna Lake.

It was the rainy season of August when my boyfriend and I decided to spend our long weekend in Tagaytay.  Our first stop was at People's Park in the Sky around 3 in the afternoon.  It was rainy and fogs are everywhere.  When we got there, it was a little chilly and fogs were somehow covering the beauty of Taal Volcano and its surroundings.  It's a wonderful view up on this location.  We even get to see a glimpse of a rainbow (after the rain as what they say).   It's just sad that this tourist spot was not well maintained.

Missing letters again

Taal can somehow be seen here

The amphitheater

This should have become a small pond maybe
View from the top
Top most area with hotdogs vendor

Very foggy and rainy!

Can you see my background?

The sight on the topmost level could be spectacular if viewable.  So it's better to visit People's Park on a sunny weather.  The picturesque background can be very inviting.  With this kind of view, it will be very relaxing and nice bonding experience with your friends, family or loved ones.

I've been reading from other blogs that the People's Park In The Sky Tagaytay is continuously being neglected.   Evidence can be found in the missing letters upon entry to the park.  If this will be well maintained by the government, this will be a good picnic destination apart from the Picnic Grove which is getting too crowded.  Tables with chairs or small huts are available in this area.  I think there are also snacks on sale.  There is also an available souvenir shops.

Oh by the way, there is an entrance fee of Php 30 per person on this park.  I wonder where will it be used.  Definitely not in the park since there's not much improvement I've seen here compared to the blogs I read.  Hmm...

You may check out my other blogs about Tagaytay below:
Going to Tagaytay
Budget Accommodations in Tagaytay
Review of Famous Inn

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Driver's License Renewal

It is my first time to have my driver's license renewed.  It will expire a very few days from now.  I didn't know that LTO was opened starting January 2.  My boyfriend was still on vacation that time so he could have accompanied me in renewing my license.  Since we didn't know that the LTO was already operational, I only get to renew my driver's license on my own (yes, I'm still on vacation until January 7!)

When I first got my driver's license 3 years ago, I was with my brother and we went to LTO Pasay Branch/office in getting my new driver's license.  This time, my brother wasn't able to accompany me (after my boyfriend) as he had other plans for the day already.  So I had no choice, I had to do it all by myself.  Besides, I'm no longer a little girl.  I can handle things on my own.  I'm just a little hesitant since this is government office where fixers may be in sight that I might made a mistake of identifying them as an LTO employee.  Well, I just had to be extra careful and not to trust anyone except people inside the office.

I intend to renew my license in one of their renewal centers in Ayala MRT station.  That's the only renewal center I know aside from the main office.  Good thing there is Google.  I searched for other renewal centers.  Well, I was really searching for the requirements in renewal and how much fee to be paid.  So I came across this Facebook page.  I learned that they also have renewal centers in the malls like Alabang Town Center, Metropoint Mall and some SM malls.  Metropoint Mall was the nearest I could find to our area in Paranque.  I chose to renew my driver's license there instead of in Ayala MRT station since I will take only 1 ride to get to Metropoint (yes, I'm still commuting even with a driver's license).  This site was somehow helpful to give me idea on the requirements and fees, although it wasn't updated.  So here I go blogging on the updated fees and other information you might find helpful in renewing your driver's license.

Go to any renewal center of your choice.  As for me, I went to Metropoint Mall.  The LTO Driver's License Renewal Center there is located at the 4th floor beside David's Salon.
You can renew your driver's license 60 days before it expire.  In case your driver's license already expired, you can still renew them up to 2 years from expiry date with corresponding penalty fees.  If it is more than 2 years, you need to retake the written and practical exams plus pay the corresponding penalty fees.  I got all these information from this site.

I went straight to the window with label "Customer Service Representative" (CSR).  I inquired about the requirements of renewal.  The CSR gave me a form to fill up.  After I filled up the form, he instructed me to get drug test and medical certificate from a testing center just a few stores away from the LTO office.

The drug test and medical clinic were located in the same room.  It is just beside Tronix Imaging.  There is another drug test room located across it but I'm not sure if it is DOH or LTO accredited.  As per requirements, you should get your medical certificate from an accredited LTO physician or from a government physician while your drug test should come from DOH accredited or government hospital.

I first went to the drug testing room.  The clinic have instructions posted on its wall on the steps to undertake.  You just need to ask around since there were people sitting inside the room which I thought was a line before the testing but they were just waiting for their names to be called.  There's no queue actually in the drug testing only on the medical exam.

The drug test was actually a urine test.  I asked first if its ok to take the test even if I have a period.  Because I know that some testing clinics postponed the procedure until your period is done.  I cannot postpone since my license will expire soon! Good thing, the lady allowed me to proceed with the test even if I have my period.  They are strict in letting you fill up their jar up to the neck line otherwise you need to come back to fill it up from where you ended.  Luckily, I need to pee that time so it wasn't hard for me to fill up their jar.  It's just quite hard to do this test if you have period but that's another story which I don't think I would want to relate.  I paid Php 300 for this test and the lady asked me to wait for my name to be called.  She said I can perform the medical examination while waiting.  I waited for about 20 minutes for the results to be handed to me.

In the medical examination, I just left another ID for queue.  It took me a while before my name was called.  The drug test result was already handed to me before my name was called for the medical exam.  The procedure I undertook in the medical exam were determination of weight, eye test (reading the letters from afar) and blood pressure test.  I paid Php 100 for these procedures.

Once you get your medical and drug test result (this should be negative), you will go back to the LTO office, in the CSR's window and present the result together with your license' previous Original Receipt (OR).  You have to wait again for your name to be called for the photosig (picture taking and signature) and for the payment.  I waited for about 20 minutes before my name was called for the photosig.  After a few minutes, my name was called again for the payment.  I paid Php 418 for the license.  After again a few minutes, I got my new renewed driver's license already.

It took me about less than an hour and 30 minutes to accomplish everything.  I arrived at LTO Metropoint at around 1:30pm and finished before 3pm.  Not bad.  I didn't feel the irritable waiting time for the procedures to be done.  Also, I didn't expect the renewal procedure to be this easy.    Total cost for the renewal of my non-pro driver's license (unexpired) is Php 818.

My 2012: A Review On The Year That Was

Looking back to the year 2012, I can say it was fulfilling and exciting than the year 2011.  But if I categorized each event of my life, there are pros and cons to the year 2012 as compared to my 2011.

Beach Trips
Since I love the beach, I see to it that I get to visit at least one beach per year.  But that's too little.  It is seldom that I only get to the beach once per year.  The most beach trip I had was I think year 2010.  That's where I get to visit Ilocos, Coron, Puerto Princesa, Davao and Camarines Norte (Calaguas Island) for the first time.  For 2011, I get to visit the beaches in Quezon (Dampalitan Beach, Borawan; unfinished blog) and Zambales (Magalawa Island) plus I get to trek again in Mt. Romelo where we visited the Buruwisan Falls.  It was also the same year where I traveled solo in Davao, mostly work related but I get to visit some parks and malls.  Last year, I only visited two new beaches: in Bolinao, Pangasinan and in Lobo, Batangas.  The rest of my beach trips were just revisits.  I get to visit Davao again on my own, this time I stayed longer and had a relaxing vacation (unfinished blog).  It was unusual for me to visit a beach twice in a year.  Last year, I get to visit Anvaya Cove in Bataan, Samal Island in Davao and Boracay Island twice.

Other Travels
2011 was when I first get to travel outside of the Philippines.  I get to visit Taiwan and Hong Kong for the first time.  Last year, I revisited Hong Kong with my family and also get a side trip to Macau (unfinished blog).  But it was the same year when I traveled almost every month, whether it be like a 2-hour drive away from Manila or a 2-hour air travel from Manila.

This 2013, I hope to visit Singapore or Thailand.  I plan to have at least one international trip per year.  For the beach trip, I'm hoping to visit El Nido, Surigao and revisit Calaguas Island and Cebu beaches.

I was promoted in 2011.  The same year, work loads were a lot compared to 2012 since I was still part of the event committee for our group where we organized team building, christmas party and vendor's night.  In 2012, my work were more challenging and I get to travel out of town (Subic and Davao) because of my work.  Since our company is continuously growing, I'm expecting more work loads this 2013.  I'm hoping that I'll continue to do better and excel even more in my line of work.

There's no other wonderful time spent than with your family.  2012 was such a blessing to my family since we get to be complete during the holidays.  It was the first time my brother spent Christmas and New Year with us after 6 years.  Although his job gave him at least 2 months vacation in the Philippines, there's always a slim chance for him in spending Christmas holidays in the Philippines.  Last 2011, my sister gets to stay here in the Philippines for good.  But my other sister then got a job opportunity to work abroad in year 2010 so she wasn't able to join us during 2011 Christmas season.  Thus, our family were incomplete then.  Last year, my other sister resigned from her work abroad and decided to stay here instead.  She came back last November while my brother came home last October.

In 2011, I can say that I'm not 100% ready to commit yet.  Although I'm dating, I haven't found someone whom I think will be my match.  But last year, I found him.  That time, I know I'm ready for commitment.  We've been together now for 7 months.  Hopefully our relationship will last.  Because of this, I'm happier now on the matters of the heart than last 2011.

Last 2011, one of my best friends went to California and stayed there for good.  Good thing, we're still keeping in touch.  The same year, a few of my friends got married.  In 2012, additional friends got married.  And those friends who got married in 2011 already become parents.  I had additional 2 goddaughters last year.  Funny thing is that both have the same birthdays! So I don't know how I'll split by body to attend their birthdays in case both celebrated it at the same date.

In the year 2012, I also get to meet more new friends.  I tried to acquaint with few bloggers but I haven't meet them personally.  Other new friends were mainly my boyfriend's friends.  I get to meet and bond with them thrice last year.    

Health, Beauty and Fashioin
Just like in the previous years, I'm still the same shopaholic!  But last year, I get to spend mostly on sale items.  With that, I get to save more in 2012 than in 2011.  In terms of my health, luckily I don't have that much sickness in 2012 than in 2011.  I also tried eating healthy last year but I know I wasn't really successful on that.  In terms of beauty, I noticed that I seldom apply make up and buy make up products in 2012 as compared to 2011.  Maybe because I tend to focus on eliminating pimples last year, which I believe was somehow successful. 

This 2013, I'm hoping to eat more healthy foods, exercise regularly (meaning going back to the gym to eliminate fats on my tummy!) and keep my skin healthy and pimple free.

I'm passionate about writing.  I started blogging last 2011.  I've got a total of 65 blogs for the year 2011 while only 45 total blogs for the  year 2012.  I admit that I seldom write blogs last year.  My average was just 1 blog per month.  I become busy most especially when I already have a love life *teehee*  My free time was spent with him since we only get to see on weekends.  Also, my writing jobs were less last year than in year 2011.  I no longer get to apply for writing jobs last year.  I'm hoping that this year, I still continue writing and updating my blog.  Most especially when I know that my blog can somehow help people get tips and information.  I hope I can write anything blog-worthy at least 1 every week or 2-3 blogs per month. 

Overall, I'm still happy and content with my 2012 even if some events were better in 2011 than in 2012.  Just like in the previous years, I'm grateful for a wonderful 2012, most especially my family is complete and I had a love of my life.  Life is more meaningful if spent with people you love.  Those were great blessings I've received which were abundant and beyond happiness.  I hope it will still be the same for 2013 or even better.

Thank you for being part of my 2012.  Thank you also for your time to visit and read my blogs.  I hope you continue to do so this year and in the coming years.  Cheers for the 2013!