Saturday, September 5, 2015

Foodtrip: Gino's Brick Oven Pizza

Friday is the last day of workweek for most of us, this is the day we normally have lunch out with friends and officemates. We spend almost or more than the accumulated lunch expenses from Monday to Thursday (Agree? haha) because we usually treat ourselves for the hard work we've for the whole week.

With the competitive Makati food scene, it's really hard to decide which is the best place to spend your hard earned money. Thank God for OpenSnap, a photo dining guide application utilizing the full OpenRice content from one million restaurant across Asia in just a simple click.

On that Friday, OpenSnap takes us to Gino's Brick Oven Pizza in Salcedo Village, a Neapolitan pizzeria with an authentic Italian taste but a product of Filipino entrepreneurs.

We arrived earlier than usual and we were able to choose a good seat. The place gets crowded when the clock strikes at 12noon. The interior is very relaxed and simple, I love their triangular lighting fixture and the red brick wall accentuated by plants in a metal pail is a nice home décor idea.

Among the pizza and pasta dishes we ordered, SMEGG and Salted Egg Pasta are my favorites. 


SMEGG Pizza (Php 370.00): Homemade Sausage, Mushroom, Eggs, Gouda, Cream


Their pizza are made from scratch and freshly served hot on the table. SMEGG pizza is a genius recipe, the toppings and the egg really compliments very well. I enjoyed eating the pizza with their spicy honey sauce.


Salted Egg Pasta (Php 180.00): Fettuccine, Bacon, Salted Egg, Cream, Parmesan


Their Salted Egg pasta is very tasty and creamy, bacon and salted egg is a good combination.

I can’t wait to go back to Gino’s and try their Burrata Cheese and Chocolate Chicharon. See you Gino’s very soon…

For more restaurants and food finds, download OpenSnap app from App Store or Google Play.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Tips and Itinerary: Albay + Naga + Caramoan Escapade




ALBAY


Albay is a province under the Bicol region and is the home of the nearly perfect cone of Mayon Volcano. The active volcano is the symbol mostly associated with the province and is visible to anywhere in Albay. 

Legazpi, the province capital is the gateway to Bicolandia. It can be reached by an hour flight from Manila to Legazpi Airport or a 10-12 hour bus ride from Cubao or Pasay. 

                     
Mayon Volcano as seen from Daraga Church in Albay
                

NAGA

The independent component city of Naga can be found in the province of Camarines Sur. Naga City is called as the Queen City and Heart of Bicol because of its central location. It is also called as the Pilgrim City and the home of the largest Marian pilgrimage in Asia, the Our Lady of Peñfrancia - the patroness of Bicol. 

Naga is an eight-hour bus ride from Cubao or an hour flight from Manila via Naga Airport. The city is also a two hour ride from Daraga or Legazpi in Albay. 


National Shrine of Our Lady of Peñafrancia


CARAMOAN 

Caramoan is a first class municipality of Camarines Sur and is located at the tip of the Caramon Peninsula. The island became the site for several editions of the reality TV show Survivor (US, Serbia, Israel, Bulgaria, Sweden, France and India). This hidden paradise is composed of white sand beaches, limestone cliffs, lagoons, caves and rich marine life. 

Sabang Port, the common jump-off point to Caramoan island is a two hour land travel from Naga City. From Sabang, you have to ride a Hari boat for two hours to reach Guijalo port, Caramoan Centro is a 30-minute tricycle ride from the said port. 


Caramoan Island


TRAVEL ITINERARY

DAY 1
07:20 AM - Estimated Time of Departure from Manila (NAIA Terminal 3)
08:20 AM - Estimated Time of Arrival to Legazpi Airport in Albay
09:00 AM - Start of Albay Countryside Tour
                    Ligñon Hill
                    Cagsawa Ruins Park
                    Hoyop-hoyopan Cave
                    Lunch at a Local Restaurant in Camalig
                    Daraga Church
03:00 PM - Estimated Time of Departure from Daraga 
05:00 PM - Estimated Time of Arrival to Naga
05:30 PM - Check in at the Sunny View Hotel/Sampaguita Tourist Inn
06:00 PM - Start of Naga Church Hopping
                   National Shrine of Our Lady of Peñafrancia
                   Basilica of the Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia
                   San Francisco Parish Church
                   Naga Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
                   Porta Mariae
07:30 PM - Dinner at Bigg's Dinner Inn 
08:30 PM - Ice Cream Dessert at First Colonial Grill
09:30 PM - Back to Hotel and Lights Off

DAY 2
04:00 AM - Early Morning Wake Up Time
05:30 AM - Estimated Time of Departure from Naga
07:30 AM - Estimated Time of Arrival to Sabang Port
08:00 AM - Estimated Time of Departure from Sabang
10:00 AM - Estimated Time of Arrival to Guijalo Port
10:30 AM - Estimated Time of Arrival to Rex Tourist Inn Caramoan Gardens
11:00 AM - Welcome Lunch at Rex Tourist Inn
12:30 AM - Start of Day1 Caramoan Island Hopping Tour
                    Lajos Island
                    Matukad Island
                    Minalahos Island
                    Gota Village
05:00 PM - End of Island Hopping Tour, Swimming at the Pool
07:30 PM - Dinner
10:00 PM - Lights Off

DAY 3
06:00 AM - Wake Up Call
07:00 AM - Breakfast
08:00 AM - Start of Day2 Caramoan Island Hopping Tour
                    Bag-Ing Island
                    Manlawi Sandbar
                    Lunch at the Floating Cottage at Manlawi
                    Cotivas Island
                    Tabgon - Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Grotto
05:00 PM - End of Island Hopping Tour, Swimming at the Pool
07:30 PM - Dinner
10:00 PM - Lights Off

DAY 4
05:00 AM - Wake Up Call
06:00 AM - Early Breakfast
07:00 AM - Souvenir Shopping
07:30 AM - Visit at St. Michael de Archangel Parish
08:00 AM - Estimated Time of Departure from Guijalo Port
10:00 AM - Estimated Time of Arrival to Sabang Port
12:00 NN - Estimated Time of Arrival to Naga
12:30 PM - Check in at Naga Crown Hotel
01:00 PM - Lunch at Naga Garden Restaurant
02:00 PM - Wakeboarding at CWC
06:00 PM - Pasalubong Shopping at J. Emmanuel Pastries
08:00 PM - Dinner at Bob Marlin's
10:00 PM - Lights Off

DAY 5
05:00 AM - Wake Up Call
06:00 AM - Breakfast at the Hotel
08:00 AM - Estimated Time of Departure from Naga
10:00 AM - Estimated Time of Arrival to Legazpi Airport in Albay
01:00 PM - Estimated Time of Departure from Legazpi, Albay
02:00 PM - Estimated Time of Arrival to Manila (NAIA3)


EXPENSES GUIDE

Albay Countryside Tour Van Rental
          Php 2,000.00 - Lignon Hill, Cagsawa Ruins, Hoyop-hoyopan Cave and                                       Daraga Church
          Php 3,500.00 - Lignon Hill, Cagsawa Ruins, Hoyop-hoyopan Cave                                             Daraga Church and Mayon Skyline

Lignon Hill Entrance Fee - Php 20.00
Lignon Hill Zip Line - Php 250.00
Cagsawa Ruins Entrance Fee - Php 10.00
Hoyop-hoyopan Entrance and Guide Fee - Php 50.00
ATV Ride to Mayon -  Php 1,800.00 to Php 4,500.00

Daraga to Naga (vice versa) via UV Express - Php 130.00
Legazpi to Naga (vice versa) via UV Express - Php 140.00
Tricycle Ride at Naga - Php 8.00

Naga to Sabang (vice versa) via UV Express - Php 100.00
Sabang Port Boat Transfer - Php 10.00
Sabang Port to Guijalo Port (vice versa) via Hari Boat - Php 120.00

Caramoan Environmental Fee - Php 30.00
Manlawi Sandbar Floating Cottage Rental - Php 200.00
Cotivas Island Boat Parking Fee - Php 50.00
Cotivas Island Cottage - Php 50.00
Tabgon Grotto Entrance Fee - Php 30.00
Tabgon Grotto Tour Guide - Any Amount
Guijalo Port Exit Fee - Php 5.00

Caramoan All In Fee - Php 3,500.00 at Rex Tourist Inn (Caramoan Gardens)
          Meals (2 Breakfast, 2 Lunch and 2 Dinner)
          2 Nights Accommodation (Air-con Room Good for 4)
          2 Days Island Hopping
          Port Transfer


OTHER IMPORTANT NOTES

Tabgon Grotto Tour Guide - Manong Adam
Rex Tourist Inn Inquiry and Reservation - Ms. Glenda 0939-204-3692
Caramoan Tour Guide (Rex Tourist Inn) - Kuya Budoy
Albay Countryside Tour - Kuya Del 0939-959-9808

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Leisure Activities in the Island Called Boracay


          Branded by the Philippine Department of Tourism as Asia's 24/7 island and named best beach in Asia by the travel website, Trip Advisor in their Traveler's Choice Award. It was also recognised as the world's best island by international travel magazine Travel + Leisure.

Willy's Rock
          Boracay is a small island (approximately seven kilometers long) located in the province of Aklan in the Visayas region. It became popular to locals and foreigners because of its powdery white sand beach and its clear crystal blue water. The tropical island paradise is just 45 minute flight away from Manila via Caticlan Airport and plus 2 hours land travel via Kalibo Airport. 

White Beach
          The famous White Beach is about four kilometers long and where you can find the resorts, hotels and restaurants. Bulabog Beach on the other side of the island is the main activity area for parasailing, helmet diving, banana boat and flying fish.


LEISURE ACTIVITIES in BORACAY


1. WATER SPORTS

Experience the thrill of hurdling over the waves on a fun water sports activities like the banana boat ride and flying fish. Hold on, get wet, go wild and satisfy your need for speed.

Cost:
Banana Boat - Php 300.00 per person (minimum of 5 persons) for 15 minutes
Flying Fish - Php 500.00 to 700.00 per person (minimum of 3 persons) for 15 minutes

Banana Boat Ride
Fly Fish Ride

2. BAR HOPPING

Boracay is a 24/7 island, a party place with lots of entertainment and nightlife activities. Some of the popular party bars are Cocomangas Shooter (Station 1), Epic (Station 2), Sandbar (Station 1), Guilly's  Island (Station 1) and Wave Bar and Lounge (Station 2).  

The Sandbar Boracay at Station 2

3. PARASAILING

Conquer your fear of heights and reach for the sky. Enjoy the bird's eye view above the clear blue water of Boracay and witness the beauty of the nearby islands.

Cost: 
Php 2,000.00 solo ride for 15 minutes
Php 1,700.00 per person for 15 minutes (2 to 3 persons)


Parasailing

4. FOOD TRIP

Taste the great food the island has to offer. Visit D' Talipapa at the Station 2, buy the fresh seafoods you want and let the 'Paluto' services cooked your food and served it hot. Right after the meal, you may go pasalubong hunting within the area.

Buttered Shrimp
Crabs!!!
Baked Mussels
Calamares
Boracay Ref Magnet

5. JONAH's FRUIT SHAKE

Drink the best refreshing fruit shake in the island. Discover the spectacular taste of Jonah's fruit shake ranging from Php100.00 - Php120.00. The restaurant is located at the Station 1.

Banana Choco Peanut Shake


6. SUNSET VIEWING

Catch the golden hour and witness one of the world's most amazing and magical sunset while lying in the powdery white sand of Boracay with your loved ones.

The magical sunset of Boracay


7.  ATV / BUGGY RIDE

Be adventurous by riding the All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and/or Buggy Car. Visit the Everland Park for some animal encounter and the Mt. Luho viewpoint for the 360 degree view of the Boracay island.

Cost: 
ATV Ride - Php 1,250.00 per unit rental
Buggy Car - Php 1,900.00 per unit rental

ATV Ride
View from Mount Luho
View from Mount Luho

8. STREET / BEACH FOOD

Eating is more fun in Boracay, try their ihaw-ihaw (barbeque and hotdogs) every afternoon along the White Beach. Chorizo burger is a must try for less than Php50.00 only.

BBQ and Hotdogs

9. HELMET DIVING / REEF WALKING

Play with the different fish species under the sea. Go helmet diving and/or reef walking, feed the fishes and get a close up view of the underwater life while touching the ocean floor 10 feet below the surface.

Cost:
Helmet Diving/Reef Walking: Php 1500.00 per person

Helmet Diving and Fish Feeding

10. PARAW SAILING / ISLAND HOPPING

Witness the magical sunset of Boracay while riding the traditional sailboat called Paraw with your friends or loved ones. Go on an island hopping and visit the following Boracay beaches and islands: Ilig-iligan Beach, Puka Beach, Tulubhan Reef, Tambisan Reef, Crocodile Island, Crystal Cove Island and Tambisaan Beach with free lunch and snorkelling equipments.

Cost:
Paraw Sailing - Php 1000.00 per person
Island Hopping - Php 1300.00 per person

Paraw Boat

OTHER MUST DO ACTIVITIES in BORACAY:

Ariel's Point Cliff Diving, Glass Bottom Boat, Massage and Spa, Zipline, Zorb Ball, Reverse Bungy, Go Cart, Scuba Diving, Jetski, Kiteboarding, Wind Surfing and Mermaid Lesson.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Panagbenga Flower Festival

        
        Baguio, the summer capital of the Philippines bloom every February as they celebrate the annual Panagbenga Festival. Panagbenga which actually means "season of blooming" is a symbol of tourism, culture and local flower industry. The festival began in 1995 to boost the local economy and revive its tourism after the devastating earthquake in 1990. 

      The highlights of the Panagbenga Festival is the floral float parade happening during the last weekend of February. Almost a million tourists go up to Baguio to witness different themed floats with thousand of colorful and beautiful flowers which are actually grown in the towns of Benguet. The parade is participated by different organizations and commercial establishments, it starts at the Panagbenga Park and ends in the Baguio Athletic Bowl traversing the iconic Session Road. The parade is accompanied by marching bands and  street dancers in colorful costumes. It also showcases the culture of Cordillera Region with its traditional clothes and music.


Tips and Reminders to Enjoy Your Stay in Baguio during the Panagbenga Float Parade.

1. Accommodations are always fully booked during the Panagbenga season, make sure to booked two to three months before the grand Panagbenga weekend. 

2. For commuters, booked your returning bus to Manila at an earlier time to avoid delay.

3. For private car owners, commuting within Baguio is recommended because major roads will be closed and finding a parking space could be a problem.

4. Tourists are lining up at the Session Road as early as 5 in the morning, make sure to come early to reserve the best spot to watch the parade.

5. Eat your breakfast before going to the parade to give you enough energy for the 2-3 hours waiting time.

6. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, you might not be able to move properly due to volume of people. 

7. Do not litter, keep your own trash and promote proper waste disposal. 

8. Bring your cameras with you to document your Panagbenga experience. 

9. Bring a lot of patience, you will do a lot of walking, experience vehicular traffic and long waiting time. 

10. Enjoy the festival with your family or friends and mingle with other tourists. Have fun. 


Below are some of the colourful and beautifully designed float during my Panagbenga Flower Festival 2013 experience. 








Sunday, February 8, 2015

Travel Tips and Recommendations: Puerto Princesa and El Nino Palawan




     From the amazing limestone formations to the famous longest navigable underground river to the enchanting lagoons and stunning beaches, Palawan is definitely a paradise on earth. In this article, I would like to share with you some tips, recommendations and guide for a hassle-free vacation in Puerto Princesa and El Nido for you to fully enjoy your stay in the world's top island.


1. As much as possible, book your flight ticket two to five months before your desired date of trip to score much cheaper rates. You may also wait for Piso Fare sale from Cebu Pacific or Air Asia. Both airlines are flying from NAIA (Manila) to Puerto Princesa Airport.

2. If you are availing of regular or discounted rates, booking one-way ticket from different airlines will save you a lot of money.
Sample Computation:
     Cost of round trip Cebu Pacific ticket from Manila to Puerto Princesa is Php 3,800.00.
      Cost of round trip Air Asia ticket from Manila to Puerto Princesa is Php 3,400.00.
      Cost of Cebu Pacific ticket MNL to PP and Air Asia ticket PP to MNL is Php 2,800.00.

3. Book your accommodation via direct coordination to the hotel/inn or via Agoda.com (for more discounts). If you failed to book in advance, airport tricycle may help you tour the city to look for a cheaper hotel/inn/pension houses in Puerto Princesa. Tricycle cost is Php 100.00.

4. For the Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour, getting a tour agency will cost you Php 1,200.00 each person while DIY (Do-It-Yourself) will cost you Php 1,300.00 for the boat good for 10 persons. Tricycle rental will cost you Php 500.00 with pick up from your hotel to Lourdes Wharf and vice versa. Add additional Php 500.00 to include Iwahig Firefly Watching transportation. Iwahig Firefly watching will cost you Php 600.00 per person. 

5. Availing your El Nido Island Hopping Tour and van services from Puerto Princesa to El Nido in one travel agent will give you Php 100.00 to Php 200.00 discount for each island hopping tour.

6. Ka Lui restaurant in Puerto Princesa is open only from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Advance reservation is required due to volume of tourists.

7. You should try eating tamilok (wood worm) and crocodile sisig. These dishes are available at Kinabuchs Grill and Bar, they are open from 6:00 pm to 2:00 am daily.

8. Puerto Princesa City Tour will cost you Php 600.00 to Php 700.00. Each tricycle can accommodate up to 4 persons. 

9. Puerto Princesa Underground River tour must be booked in advance via a travel agent to secure permit and schedule. PPUR tour published rate is Php 1,540.00 per person inclusive of transportation, tour guide, entrance fee, environmental fee, boat transfer, wharfage fee and buffet lunch but you can get it at Php 1,240.00 per persons only (see Fort Wally contact details below). This tour includes side trip to Ugong Rock Adventures.

10. Rent a kayak (good for 3 persons) from Php 200.00 to Php 700.00 for El Nido Island Hopping Tour A to fully explore Small and Secret Lagoon.

11. Island Hopping Tours offer free use of snorkeling gears or you may bring your own. Aqua shoes and waterproof bags are a must. Buffet lunch is included in all island hopping tours, they will serve you grilled fish, grilled pork, squid, crabs, vegetables with rice, water and softdrinks.

12. El Nido requires each tourists to pay for Php 200.00 environmental fee valid for 14 days.


Puerto Princesa Tours:

Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour
     Cowrie Island - Php 275.00 entrance fee
      Pambato Reef - Php 50.00 entrance fee
      Luli Island - Php 60.00 entrance fee
      Starfish Island - Php 50.00 entrance fee
      Pandan Island - Php 100.00 entrance fee 

Iwahig Firefly Watching - Php 600.00 per person

Puerto Princesa Underground River - Php 1,240.00 per person

Ugong Rock Adventures
     Entrance Fee - Php 200.00 per person
      Sitting Position Zipline - Php 200.00 per person
      Superman Position Zipline - Php 250.00 per person

Puerto Princesa City Tour
     Palawan Rescue and Wildlife Centre (Crocodile Farm) - Php 40.00 entrance fee
      Rancho Sta. Monica (Mitra's Ranch)
      Baker's Hill
      Palawan Butterfly Ecological Garen and Tribal Villgae - Php 50.00 entrance fee
      Puerto Princesa Cathedral
      Plaza Cuartel
      Baywalk


El Nido Tours:

Island Hopping Tours (inclusive of buffet lunch)
     Tour A - Php 1,200.00 per person/shared boat
                   Small Lagoon
                   Big Lagoon
                   Secret Lagoon
                   Simuzu Beach
                   Seven Commando

      Tour B - Php 1,300.00 per person/shared boat
                   Pangulasian Island
                   Snake Island
                   Codugnon Cave
                   Cathedral Cave
                   Eli Island

      Tour C - Php 1,400.00 per person/shared boat
                   Hidden Beach
                   Matinloc Shrine
                   Secret Beach
                   Star Beach
                   Helicopter Island

      Tour D - Php 1,200.00 per person/shared boat
                   Cadlao Lagoon
                   Pasandigan Beach
                   Paradise Beach
                   Bucal Beach
                   Ipil Beach

Inland Tours (includes transportation only)
     Nacpan - Calitang Twin Beach Tour - Php 1,500.00 for 2 persons
      Nacpan - Calitang Twin Beach/Hot Spring/Waterfall Tour - Php 1,700.00 for 2 persons
      Taraw Cliff Climb - Php 350.00 per person minimum of 2
      Las Cabanas Beach (Maremegmeg Beach) - Php 300.00 tricycle rental


Important Contact Information:

09054325019
Van Rental (Puerto Princesa to El Nido and vice versa)
El Nido Island Hopping Tour Reservations

Richard Dela Torre
09106975342
Airport Tricycle Service
Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour
Iwahig Firefly Watching
Puerto Princesa City Tour

09292832969
Airport Tricycle Service
Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour
Iwahig Firefly Watching
Puerto Princesa City Tour

Fort Wally
0917276287
Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour 
Ugong Rock Adventures