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Monday, 14 August 2017

Find Your HappyNest and the Modern Day Heroes Promo

By On August 14, 2017

Zoomanity Group launches its newest slogan - Find Your HappyNest - and runs an awesome promo to celebrate the National Heroes Day in the Philippines on Monday, August 28, 2017. The promo will run from August 15, 2017 to August 30, 2017 and will entitle modern day heroes to avail any ticket of Zoomanity theme parks and GET another ticket for free!


Celebrate National Heroes Day with Zoomanity


The heroes we commemorate are the men and women in the past whose acts of courage enabled our country to grow as a nation. Whilst National Heroes Day celebrates both known and unknown heroes, a National Heroes Committee was set up in 1995 to recommend those who should be counted as ‘National Heroes’. Following certain criteria, they found a select group of people, who should be honored for their deeds, namely: Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, Apolinario Mabini, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Sultan Dipatuan Kudarat, Juan Luna, Melchora Aquino and Gabriela Silang. 

This month, celebrate with us and avail #ModernDayHeroes Buy1 Take1 promo on any of our part tickets. Zoomanity Group is composed of different theme parks and Restaurants in the Philippines like Zoobic Safari, Zoocobia, Zoocolate Thrills, Paradizoo, Residence Inn, Misono Japanese Restaurant, Jinsei, Nanten, Midori and Yakitori Daitokyo. 


Zoomanity Group is the leading company in theme park industry under the Yupangco Group of Companies. Envisioning world class, innovative and enjoyable facilities from Northern to Southern Philippines by providing the best tourist destination and nature educational experiences with the facilities that is uniquely design to provide enjoyment to visitors of all ages.

For more information: www.zoomanity.com.ph and www.tagmedia.asia / 02 9170213 (Tag Media Office), 09166299381.

Press Release by Tag Media

Cabalen Group of Companies Celebrates its 31st Anniversary

By On August 14, 2017

Cabalen Group of Companies on their 31st Anniversary brings you the most exciting prizes with their Eat, Repeat, Win and Travel Raffle Promo! A trip to Asia’s dream destinations –Hongkong and Disneyland, Bali, Indonesia and Hanoi, Vietnam – awaits the three (3) lucky winners this year! Plus staycation packages to Bataan, Zambales and Tanay, Rizal will be given away. 


video
How to join the raffle? 

The collaboration of all the restaurants – Cabalen Eat All U Can, Eat All U Want, Soi Restaurant, Mangan Restaurant, Eat Pinoy, BKK Express and Cerveseria – will surely satisfy your food cravings with their wide array of food highlights and exciting gadgets and international trips.

A minimum spend of P1,499 at any of these restaurants entitles you to one (1) raffle card for the Grand Draw. Upon completing your Grand Draw Entry you also get a bonus P350 worth of Gift Certificate valid to all Cabalen Group of Restaurants!

Aside from the international trips and calming staycations, you also get a chance to win weekly prizes all throughout the month of August. Yes! You can win gadgets, various passes and gift certificates every week!

Tickle your taste buds with the country’s best Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao favorites – La Paz Batchoy, Gatang Tambakol, Sinigang na Lechon Ilocos, Pancit Habhab and Sizzling Chicken by Cabalen Eat All U Can, Eat All U Want.  Experience Authentic Thai dishes with a local twist with Soi Restaurant’s Thai Grilled Salted Fish (Pla Pao), Thai Mixed Vegetables (Pad Phak), Thai Fried Pork Belly (Mu Krob), Thai Chicken in Basil (Pad Kaprow Gai), Thai Spicy Ground Pork (Mu Pad Kaprow), Thai Spicy Ground Pork Chicken (Kai Pad Kaprow), and Thai Grilled Chicken Leg (Gai Yang); Feast on Mangan Restaurant’s Perfect Fry & Grill Duo, Prito Paborito and Inihaw Fiesta;  Indulge on Cerveseria’s mouthwatering Artisan Meals Cochinillo and Paella Cerveseria; Of course the On-the-Go Thai favorite BKK Express offers their full Big Kombo Kraze with P10 OFF and Eat Pinoy’s delectable Quilain Babi and Pesang Dalag.





Get the ultimate food experience only with Cabalen Group of Restaurants – Cabalen Eat All U Can, Eat All U Want, Soi Restaurant, Mangan Restaurant, Eat Pinoy, BKK Express and Cerveseria and win amazing trips and staycations from Air You Go Travels,  Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar, Ten Cents to Heaven Leisure Camp and Inflatable Island. That’s not all; get exciting prizes every week from Upside Down Museum, Myphone, Western Appliances and Star City.

Hurry! Join their Eat, Repeat, Win & Travel Raffle promo now!  For more details, see posters and prints or visit their official Facebook pages. Promo runs from August 1, until August 31, 2017. Per DTI-FETB Permit No. 10653 Series of 2017. 



Satisfy your Filipino cravings from Cabalen in any of its accessible branches: Alabang Town Center 809-6698 | Glorietta 2 893-9884 | Harbor Point Ayala Mall, Subic Bay Freeport Zone (045) 499-0245 | Market! Market! 728-2930 | Robinsons Place Ilocos 09392387995 | Robinsons Place Manila 536-7987 | Robinsons Starmills, San Fernando, Pampanga (045) 875-2064 | SM City Bacolod  (034) 436-5922 | SM City Bacoor (046) 484-9434 | SM City Baliwag (02)911-1584 | SM City Cabanatuan 0949-7740221 / 0977-6020222 | SM City Cebu (032) 238-5840 | SM City Clark (045) 499-0245 | SM City Dasmariñas  (02) 911-1584 | SM City Davao (02) 911-1584 I SM City Fairview 374-0843 | SM City Iloilo 0922-338-1091 I SM City Lipa (043) 756-2360 | SM City Manila 225-4580 I  SM Megamall 633-1761 | SM Mall of Asia 556-4874 |  SM City North Edsa 294-7970 | SM City Pampanga (045) 435-5511 | SM City San Jose Del Monte 0995– 1270517 & 0943-4863043 | SM City San Lazaro 244-9932 | SM Seaside Cebu (032) 254-9097 | SM City Southmall 0910-098-9652 I SM Trece Martires (046) 437–2941 | Trinoma Mall 901-3602 | West Ave., Quezon City 372-3515| Marquee Mall, Pampanga 911-1584: and Cabalen San Bruno, USA - 495 San Mateo Avenue, San Bruno, CA 94066.

For your Thai favorites, visit Soi at any of the following: Alabang Town Center 551-0819 I Glorietta 553-0001 I Robinsons Place Manila 523-1189 I SM Mall of Asia GF, North Arcade 0922 – 8352708/ 0932 - 8904136 I SM Megamall 361-2420 I SM Seaside Cebu (032) 273-1456 | SM Manila- 252-2287|

For On-The-Go Thai food, visit BKK Express at the Uptown Mall, Food Hall 805-1328
and for Classic Filipino Comfort Food, go to Eat Pinoy at Food on Four, SM Aura 553-2717


Press Release by Cabalen Group of Companies


Thursday, 10 August 2017

Mr. Navuth: Awesome Siem Reap Guide and Tuk-tuk Driver

By On August 10, 2017

Our three-day temple visit in Siem Reap with Mr. Navuth Ou was arranged by one of my four travel companions, Larc (of Cozy Living PH), during a time when we were trying so hard to cram three countries into a 9-day itinerary. The Facebook referrals/ reviews really came in handy that he found Mr. Pen Soktear and his cousin, Mr. Navuth. None of us was exactly sure about what we wanted to do in Siem Reap (of course aside from visiting Angkor Wat) when we kept in touch with Mr. Navuth that day but his accommodating aura (on Facebook) and acceptable command of English resulted in a structured 3-DAY itinerary and later on, fun touring days in Cambodia.

Mr. NAVUTH OU feeling cozy in his red tuk-tuk

About Mr. Navuth Ou


Evidently, Mr. Navuth is among the experienced Tuk-tuk drivers in Cambodia. He knows the where, when, and how of the Angkor Temples that we were able to catch the perfect sunrise and sunset, enjoy taking photos and walk around the temples without being jammed into an overwhelming number of visitors.

By the way, Mr. Navuth is celebrating his birthday today. Aside from a kind greeting, I also want to point out his good qualities as a tuk-tuk driver/ guide in case he is unaware — he converses English adequately that his knowledge of Khmer history made us appreciate each temple that we visited; he is approachable, friendly and is willing to answer all our inquisition; he photographs well; he is generous enough to let us consume more than 3 bottles of cold drinking water in hot days — all these plus his comfortable, rain equipped tuk-tuk complemented an amazingly memorable time!

Mr. Navuth and my lovely PROFESSIONAL HMUA friend Charm Suerte

Mr. Navuth's good qualities:


...he converses English adequately that his knowledge of Khmer history made us appreciate each temple that we visited; he is approachable, friendly and is willing to answer all our inquisition; he photographs well; he is generous enough to let us consume more than 3 bottles of cold drinking water in hot days...



3 DAY ITINERARY


The itinerary we had for our 3-day trip is here. Just in case you wonder. Click the link to read on. And if I were to compare our trip to the hotel itinerary, ours is really cheaper. You can see here. This is our quotation from the awesome hotel we stayed in. Speaking of our hotel, I would recommend you to stay there especially if you want a budget accommodation. I mean you get MORE than what you pay for. From staff hospitality to food to facilities, definitely a must experience! Read my post about King Boutique Hotel HERE.

Contact Mr. Navuth for your Siem Reap Tour


Going back to Mr. Navuth,our awesome driver, here is his Fb page and I believe this is his website. If you are looking for a reliable, safe, funny, accommodating, friendly and informative, experienced TUK-TUK driver for your Siem Reap/ Phnom Penh Tour, check out his sites! And if you want a detailed review about Mr. Navuth, read Chesca the Critique’s post here.


I highly recommend Mr. Navuth (and his cousin Mr. Pen Soktear) as Siem Reap/ Phnom Penh Tuk-tuk Drivers and Guides and definitely would engage in their services if ever I find myself in Cambodia again!  


P.S. Mr. Navuth, Happy Birthday! I hope your books are coming along well and plenty!

Friday, 4 August 2017

Celebrating Freedom in the Peaks of Mt. Ulap

By On August 04, 2017


If you think you're bad at being happy, you probably are. And if you think hiking a mountain can invoke that happiness you desire, it probably could. 

You see, the great Greek philosopher Thucydides understood it very well. Having the courage to take on life's challenges is liberating, and this freedom leads to happiness. 

Well, I'm NOT saying hiking is the ONLY way to happiness. But you bet it leads the way. It helps you realize two important truths — you are capable and you are very lucky to be in this world. 



Mt. Ulap Day Hike


In this year's Independence Day, I decided to traverse Mt. Ulap via Ampucao - Sta. Fe trail with Professional Mountaineer Drew Rivera and the "Kalayaan Team". The hike level of this mountain is said to be 3 - that is ideal for first timers and beginner hikers. While the hike level is pretty low, the benefits of hiking Mt. Ulap could go over 10. 


Most people prefer to hike Mt. Ulap in summer but in case you wonder how it's like in June or in a rainy season just read through.





Relevant information you must know to decide on or prepare for Mt. Ulap Day Hike: 

TRAIL NAME:  Ampucao - Sta. Fe
HIKE DATE: June 12, 2017
MEETING POINT: McDonalds, Quezon Avenue MRT Station, Quezon City
MEETING TIME: June 11, 2017 9:00PM
RETURN to Manila: June 12, 2017 9:00PM (approx)
HIKE LEAD:  Drew Rivera
HIKE GUIDE: Edu Losnong
HIKE LEVEL: Level 3  (First time hikers, beginners, some kids, most teens, dogs)
HIKE DISTANCE: 9 km
HIKE DURATION: 4-8 hours
POINTS OF ATTRACTION: Gungal Rock, pine ridges, mountain range, grassland ridges, Camp site
HIKE FEE: Php 1200

The Meet Up (a.k.a. settling of payments) 


I arrived at the meet up point with my cousin on time. MRT ride was a smarter choice for us than Uber since we came from EDSA Shaw. These days, traffic jam in Metro Manila can make you lose your wit.

At McDonalds, I met Kalayaan team: Drew, our team leader; Ms. Pia of Travelbook; Kamille, a balikbayan traveler from Winnipeg; Agave, a sweet girl from Bulacan (if I remember correctly); Mike, Pia's friend; Lady, my friend; Marlon Kim, my cousin; Aze and her hubby; Carl the emo heartthrob; Eman the engineer; Eman's friends from Cabuyao or (Marawi?). I enumerated everyone because after the hike, I felt close to them and managed to keep in touch on Facebook.

Before we got on the van, the team settled the remaining payment for the hike fee. For arranged events like this, it is normal to make a P500 down payment via BPI bank transfer/ BDO deposit or Cebuana Luilliher (IDK the correct spelling). Rest is settled on the day of meet up.

“How many times have you climbed mountains?” Some fellow hikers asked.

I wanted to say 7 but I knew Mt. Tomamu in Hokkaido doesn't count since I didn’t literally hike my way to its summit. We took a gondola to get to it same with Mt. Gozaisho in Mie and Wakakusayama Summit in Nara.

In the Philippines, I've trekked some mountains mostly from my hometown. I'm grateful to be among those provinciated kids who were immersed in outdoor activities like hiking during childhood. This year, I trekked Mt. Balungao and hiked to Diket Falls in eastern Pangasinan.

While I don’t consider myself a professional mountaineer, I am prepared for long hours of hike. Thanks to my lunges and hill climb workout, I could count on my leg muscles any time.

Getting Ready to Hike


Our hike lasted for 7.5 hours. I checked it through photo logs. I am sure half of this was dedicated to photography.

AT 11:00 PM


So after the meet up at McDonald's Quezon Ave, we headed straight to the north and arrived at our first stop over at around 11 o'clock - Leeza's Restaurant at Sison, Pangasinan. Here we took our midnight snacks/ late dinner. You can buy: Arroz Caldo for P40; Boiled Peanuts for P20 per order; Boiled Egg for P15; Instant Noodles for less than P50; Rice meals for less than P100.

FIRST STOP OVER: Leeza's Restaurant at Sison, Pangasinan

At this restaurant, I was able to charge my phone from the outlet near our table. Travelers can buy pasalubong here as well as some travel necessities such as hat, scarf, sun glasses ALTHOUGH I recommend you do your last minute shopping at Ampucao Barangay Hall. Raincoats/ Ponchos are sold for P200 pesos there, gloves or beanies for P100, walking stick for P100.

AT 3:00 AM 


We arrived at Ampucao Barangay Hall at around 3 AM. If you ask if we were able to have a good night sleep, I'm telling you NO. For pressed schedule like this, sacrificing sleep is expected. At the very least you can take short naps.

Protip: Bring a neck pillow to make your nap as comfortable as possible.

Inside Ampucao Barangay Hall, there are makeshift stalls where travelers can buy hike necessities I mentioned earlier, coffee, snacks, and some souvenirs. There are toilets too.

Before we started hiking, we cleaned up, registered, met our hike guide, had the hike orientation led by our team lead, and PRAYED! Read about hike etiquette here.

At 4:00 AM


The hike to Mt. Ulap officially began at 4 in the morning. We walked outside. It was drizzling, cold, and totally dark. I proved it is important to bring flash light!

From left to right: (1) Team lead Drew and Hike Guide Edu WOW (2) Me and Lady's head lamp (3) Me in a trash bag LOL and my friend Lady 

Hike Through the Changing Hues


There are at least six interesting points in Mt. Ulap.  Each point is uniquely attractive and is sure to make hikers' time on the trail more amusing rather than tiring. 


BARANGAY HALL – PHILEX ROAD

Truth be told, I didn't bring any flashlight or raincoat with me even if they were on the 'to-bring list. If you can imagine an early morning ascent on a rainy day without these things seems like a bad idea. Luckily, my friend let me use her head lamp. And I got some large trash bags......

The walk along the Philex road could be eerie when you're alone. But no need to worry because there are always a number of hikers taking on Mt. Ulap.

The first challenge is the uphill climb on a steep concrete cement. If you survive trudging this path, you'd be fine with the succeeding slopes.

The trail could be very muddy and slippery but you can always find a way to prevent your feet from being soaked in mud.

After 25 minutes of hike, we arrived at the Ampucao - Sta. fe signage. During this time, I felt the need to take off the trash bag... LOL I felt hot and also the sky was beginning to light up LOL Hikers might see my odd OOTD.

GARBAGE BAG FREE LOL

AMBANAO PAOAY 1788 MASL

From the trail head to this first peak took a few hours. I refer to this as a trek to the woods. It reminded me of the movie Twilight because of the tall Pine trees and thick fog. In some parts, the fog was subtle, we were able to take awesome photos!

Posing to the camera for a bit
weird photo but I like my hat here
It's hazy like this
Team Kalayaan at AMBANAW PAWAY Peak
The Girl with the Muji Hat at Ambanaw Paway Peak

GUNGAL 1814 MASL

The trail to Gungal Peak included grassy cliff paths. It is still foggy and slippery, therefore hikers are strongly advised to practice caution especially when tempted to take selfies or live video. A slight misstep to the left could be detrimental.


Some parts made it seem like we were in a jungle adventure... We were surrounded with vines and bushes. Ferns are every where. I saw varieties of wild flowers and Pitcher plants... and I tasted some wild berries!

Into the jungle...

Pitcher plant or not???

Just goofin' around...

So some of us didn't know about this Korean heart thing...

I'm just busy picking something to fill my tummy...

Approximately 3 hours of hike led us to Gungal’s Peak.

Hello Hello from Gungal Peak!

At 7:26 AM we had to reapply sunscreen!!!!!!

when sun screen is life. . .


GUNGAL ROCK

The Gungal Rock is an interesting point of attraction in Mt. Ulap. Though I must say, it is very dangerous posing in this overhang.

Took the photo on the left somewhere online... My picture is on the right.. Well... you can tell... it was really cloudy... x_x
We took our lunch around this area. I loved how the view made my heart skip a beat: in front of me was a stunning view of the mountain and a bit to my right, people posing on the Gungal Rock. For the latter part, I almost screamed and felt out of breath. It was something I wouldn't wanna watch while eating Adobo and rice.  

HIKE TO THE SUMMIT 

I realized, even if you don't force yourself to be friends with fellow hikers on the trail, friendship could build up naturally. It could be due to the shared laughs and stories along the way or acts of kindness such offering snacks or help whenever needed. That being said, I felt I have become close to the members of our team.

Glad was able to make new friends from our hike

The trail from Gungal peak to Mt. Ulap summit made me more interested because of (more) wild berries LOL and lovely flowers.

Another interesting sight were the cows munching on the verdant mountain grass...

I can't exactly remember how long it took before we got to the summit. Maybe 20 or 30 minutes?

Team Kalayaan at Mt. Ulap summit

AT MT. ULAP SUMMIT 1846 MASL

At the summit, everybody seemed to have been rejuvenated. I don't wonder why. The view from the summit is energizing. It wouldn't fail to make anyone feel alive more than ever.

Jump shots at Mt. Ulap 

Another reason I see is that sense of fulfillment. The fact that you were able to overcome challenging trails fuels you to take on more.

For me, there are two things things that make me ecstatic about reaching the summit : One is being face to face with clouds, another is the realization of how little I am.

The Girl with the Muji Hat at Mt. Ulap summit

A huge pack of clouds in front of you is a rare beauty to behold. Perhaps the best place to contemplate or reflect on your life is at this humbling place - faced with enormous cluster of clouds, swept by the cold mountain breeze - where time seems to slow down a bit and everything you see moves you in a positive way.

I'm feeling the earth...

A pleasant reminder of how small we are could be grasped at the summit of any mountain. You see the vast view of land masses and the endless sky, and you realize what a tiny place you occupy compared to what you see. And I believe it's enough reason to keep you grounded and grateful.


Descent to Sta. Fe 


At 10:22 AM, we began traversing down to Sta. Fe Ridge. The trail here is paved with wooden steps and railings.


The descent was filled with pressure exerted to our heels. It was equally challenging especially when the sun was finally up and shining. On the positive side, the natural light worked miracles in our photos. LOL

The trek down from the summit provided more photo opportunities with beautiful landscapes in the form of green hills. Though I think the wind could be inexorably strong on the top of these hills. I will never recommend bringing an umbrella.

The hills are alive... with... the... sound.. of.. our laughter!

PONG-OL BURIAL CAVES

Among the points of attractions in Mt. Ulap is the Pongol Burial Cave. I didn't dare take pictures, but the site that we saw had bones apparent of a human. The indigenous people of Benguet still practice this traditional burial rite.

Half-way through our descent, we stopped over some makeshift stalls to buy souvenirs like t-shirts and ref magnets, also coconut juice as refreshment.





STA. FE RIDGE

The trek down was faster (or so it seemed to me). We arrived at Sta. Fe Ridge at 11:38 AM. This was according to the selfie log on my iPhone.

There were hanging bridges we needed to cross. Towards the very last, I stopped by another makeshift stall and bought limes. This local lime was P50 a pack (10 pieces) but I realized the cost was the same as the ones sold in Baguio City market. The local lime is called DUKUS by the way.

The Girl with the Muji Hat on a hanging bridge

The hike ended with a cold shower at local toilets in Sta. Fe. Hikers can freshen up in these makeshift bathrooms for a fee of P20. It is important to note that these toilets are crude but effective. Hikers must bring his or her own toiletries and towel.


Hiking Tips


It feels good to get lost in the right direction they say and I agree, especially if you are well-equipped! So before you get lost in the beauty of Mt. Ulap, here are some tips for you:

1. Prepare yourself before the hike. Make sure that you have enough exercise so your body will not be in shock when you do something strenuous.
2. Secure your gadgets with plastics. In case it rains, they will be protected.
3. You can bring a rain coat or prefer to buy from the shops in the registration hall. For a pair it will cost Php 200.
4. Bring snacks to load you up during your hike. Best would be chocolates, nuts, fruits like pineapple or apples or turnips.
5. Water is a necessity. Bring at least 1 liter. In my case I brought 2 liters plus 3 bottles of Gatorade. I only consumed 2 bottles of Gatorade. I consumed all the water.
6. Bring trash bag for your trash.
7. If you are a first-time hiker, you can use a walking stick as a support for some slippery and steep areas. Walking sticks are sold at Ampucao Barangay Hall for P100.
8. Take lots of pictures but be careful in some accident prone areas like edge of a cliff or an overhang.
9. Always follow your guide's instructions.
10. Practice courtesy and discipline. Enjoy the hike responsibly.


Parting Words


Traversing Mt. Ulap in Itogon, Benguet reveals a spectacular mix of trails. The contrast between one track after another makes it a fairly interesting hiking destination. Its summit gives a majestic view of the Cordilleras mountain range – as lovely as the personality of the Ifugaos and as vast as the hospitality of the Filipino people in general.

Hiking this humbling mountain may be physically demanding for beginners or first-time hikers but the experience along the way and the view at the Peaks and the summit make it all worthwhile. Hiking Mt. Ulap in the rainy month of June is worthwhile!

I can say that this is the most enjoyable climb I've had so far. I recommend you try it! A day hike to Mt. Ulap in any season sounds like a good plan!



Ever hiked during rainy season? What is your best climb so far? Have you tried traversing Mt. Ulap? If you haven’t, would you love to take on Mt. Ulap in Benguet? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Thursday, 3 August 2017

3rd Asia Digital Marketing Expo Presents TRAVELOOZA

By On August 03, 2017

3rd Asia Digital Marketing Expo presents TRAVELOOZA - Theme Parks, Zoos, Hospitality, Restaurants, Travel Agencies, Tour Operators, Resorts, Hotels


We are inviting everyone to join us in the first and only event for the whole Tourism Industry with various activities focused on promoting the Philippines as the premier travel destination. This is the first time different companies (B2B) will present on stage about their packages, incentives, awards and raffle to 1000 travel agencies and tour operators as audience. 

There will be expert speakers who will talk about Digital Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, E-commerce and Facebook Marketing. Learn from them this time.

We would like to acknowledge the help of the travel operators and travel agencies sectors in promoting the Philippines as the premier destinations in the world by giving certificates, awards and lots of raffle prizes. We will have lots of presentations also and music from our favorite entertainers while doing business networking and gaining connections during the event. We are expecting 1000 attendees during the event and 100 exhibitors.

Date: September 28, 2017
Venue: Makati Sports Club, Bel Air, Makati
Time: 9AM - 5PM
Reservation of Slots: July 7, 2017- August 15, 2017


To register, please deposit Php 500 per pax to BPI Checking 1680 0010 29. (includes lunch, flowing coffee and certificates).

For Sponsorship or exhibition booth/table- events@travelooza.asia, 09166299381 or 02 9170213

 Press Release by 3rd Asia Digital Marketing Expo 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Do you need to apply for Visa to go to the Philippines?

By On July 16, 2017
Photo by Bambi Corro on Unsplash

HERE ARE THE GUIDELINES ON THE ENTRY OF FOREIGN NATIONALS TO THE PHILIPPINES


Temporary visitors from countries listed below who are traveling to the Philippines for business and tourism purposes are allowed to enter the Philippines without visas for a stay not exceeding thirty (30) days, provided they hold valid tickets for their return journey to port of origin or next port of destination and their passports valid for a period of at least six (6) months beyond the contemplated period of stay.

Nationals from the following countries are allowed to enter the Philippines without a visa for a period of stay of thirty (30) days or less:


Andorra
Angola
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
Australia
Austria
Bahamas
Bahrain
Barbados
Belgium
Belize
Benin
Bhutan
Bolivia
Botswana
Brazil*
Brunei Darussalam
Bulgaria
Burkina Faso
Burundi
Cambodia
Cameroon
Canada
Cape Verde
Central African Republic
Chad
Chile
Colombia
Comoros
Congo
Costa Rica
Cote d’Ivoire
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Denmark
Djibouti
Dominica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
El Salvador
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Estonia
Ethiopia
Fiji
Finland
France
Gabon
Gambia
Germany
Ghana
Greece
Grenada
Guatemala
Guinea
Guinea Bissau
Guyana
Haiti
Honduras
Hungary
Iceland
Indonesia
Ireland
Israel*
Italy
Jamaica
Japan
Kazakhstan
Kenya
Kiribati
Kuwait
Kyrgyzstan
Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Latvia
Lesotho
Liberia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Madagascar
Malawi
Malaysia
Maldives
Mali
Malta
Marshall Islands
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mexico
Micronesia
Monaco
Mongolia
Morocco
Mozambique
Myanmar
Namibia
Nepal
Netherlands
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Niger
Norway
Oman
Palau
Panama
Papua New Guinea
Paraguay
Peru
Poland
Portugal
Qatar
Republic of Korea
Romania
Russia
Rwanda
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Samoa
San Marino
Sao Tome and Principe
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Seychelles
Singapore
Slovak Republic
Slovenia
Solomon Islands
South Africa
Spain
Suriname
Swaziland
Sweden
Switzerland
Tajikistan
Thailand
Togo
Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia
Turkey
Turkmenistan
Tuvalu
Uganda
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
United Republic of Tanzania
United States of America
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Vanuatu
Vatican
Venezuela
Vietnam
Zambia
Zimbabwe

*Brazilian and Israeli nationals are given fifty-nine (59) days stay based on existing agreements.


The following are allowed to enter the Philippines without a visa for a stay not exceeding fourteen (14) days:


1. Holders of Hong Kong Special Administrative (SAR) passports.
2. Holders of Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) passports.

The following are allowed to enter the Philippines without a visa for a stay not exceeding seven (7) days:

1. Holders of Macau-Portuguese passports
2. Holders of Hong Kong British passports.

Important Note:

  • Nationals who are subjects of deportation/blacklist orders of the Department and the Bureau of Immigration shall not be admitted to the Philippines. 
  • Further inquiries may be addressed to the Visa Division (Telephone numbers:556-0000 and ask the operator to connect you to Visa Division), Department of Foreign Affairs, 2330 Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City or to any Philippine Embassy or Consulate abroad.




SOURCE: (Department of Foreign Affairs website)

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Staycation at El Masfino: The Finest or So-so?

By On July 15, 2017
Garden view from our room at El Masfino

For those times when you want to feel indulged in an upscale environment and just sip a glass of wine by the pool, mesmerized by a lush green landscape, El Masfino Hotel & Resort fits the bill.

Or, if you wish to maintain a theme of intimate getaway, enjoy the water and the sunshine without intrusion, or if you want a private moment to swing your golf club, El Masfino in San Rafael, Bulacan is unmistakably a place for you.

The Finest

El Mas Fino is a Spanish phrase that translates to "the finest".

At El Masfino Hotel & Resort, the emphasis is on creating and giving "the finest" experience among guests whether they are on a romantic getaway, a family bonding or team-building activity. In this estate, the facilities are built in luxury. The staff are expected to be sharp and genuinely attentive. The outdoor adventure runs the gamut from golfing to driving a dune buggy and is sure to complete an enriching experience.


Early this month, I and eight fellow bloggers stayed in this place of comfort for a weekend break. Did we have the finest staycation at El Masfino Hotel & Resort? Read through to know about our experience and recommendations plus some pro tips to make the most of your stay! 




Driving up north


Allow me to blabber a bit about my commute from Shaw Boulevard to Eton Centris. Don't you think the stairs at MRT Shaw are too high? I tried to count the number of steps but I lost count. I seriously think it could be a good training ground for beginner climbers or for those who want to strengthen their leg muscles. Anyways, I'm happy about two things here:

1. The long, steep stairs (that allow passengers to unconsciously workout)
2. The new baggage scanner in the station

Passengers at MRT Shaw Blvd station having their bags scanned 

I arrived at MRT Quezon Avenue Station 30 minutes before the call time. So I leisurely walked to Eton Centris. A private van from El Masfino was already there waiting for the bloggers. Rowena of Travel Eat Pinas and Jaey of Heyjaey were early birds as well. I won't mention the late comers, Stacy and JL... (LOL JL was on time) because I din't mind the wait. I got to eat breakfast and take pictures before we took off...

Photo opp with the giant koal bear at eton centris, a selfie in the van (love the pillow), at the toll gate

We left Eton Centris past 9 and arrived at A Square, a new community buzz hub in Baliuag, Bulacan at around 10:30. We hung there for a bit. I recommend you check out A Square of you live within the area or if you happen to need a stopping place on your way to the north. 


Into the 'woods


The drive from NLEX to A Square was fast and smooth. It was a sunny, hot morning in the rainy month of July. I'm not sure if the travel time would have taken longer if it rained...

El Masfino Hotel & Resort is 20 minutes away from A Square. It is located in the 'woods – in the Royal Northwoods at Brgy. Coral na Bato! *wink*wink* 

There weren't any public transportation along F. Viola Hiway to Brgy. Coral na Bato. There's also not much to see on the way but rice fields, residential houses, and a few commercial establishments. But I like the sight. It highly contrasts the busy, crowded city life inside Manila... 

Upon arrival at the Royal Northwoods Country Club, I couldn't help but think of Mountain Lake Resort in Cavinti, Laguna. Both resorts are nicely tucked away and let guests reconnect to nature.

Shades of nature at El Masfino 
metal wall sculpture at the pavilion of El Masfino Hotel & Resort
front desk at the pavilion


Arrival & Check-in

As soon as we got off the van, the friendly concierge helped us unload our bags and walked us to the front desk in the pavilion. The hotel pav has a clean and inviting space with high ceiling adorned with hanging capiz chandeliers. The walls have framed leaf metal sculptures that coordinate with the design at the reception desk. 

The receptionist stood there, greeted us with a smile and asked us to fill the check-in form. The check-in didn't take long even if we were three groups. We got our room keys and were immediately guided to our rooms.  

The way to the accommodation is on the west side of the pavilion. A narrow pavement leads to the earth-colored building inspired by Mediterranean architecture with tiled roofs, bricked pillars, courtyard, and balconies. Step out of the pavilion and you will be welcomed by an open space lushly manicured with palm trees, Bermuda grass, and tropical plants.       

Palm trees and other tropical plants in the grounds of El Masfino


Our Room


El Masfino's deluxe room with two double bed


Deluxe Room


I stayed at a deluxe room with two fellow bloggers - Ehms of Aemelia Mundi and Atty. Stacy of Tsinoy Foodies. Our room is spacious and accommodates up to two adults plus two kids. I like that the room's very neat with ambient lighting and fresh smell. I was able to sleep soundly.

The deluxe rooms in El Masfino feature spacious rooms with super-comfy double or kingsize bed, cable TV, mini bar, small fridge, a sitting area, closet, lamps, balconies, telephone, water heater, complimentary coffee and water, slippers, toiletries, separate toilet and shower rooms, vanity mirrors, and safety deposit boxes. 

There is no bath tub or hair dryer in the room. But I believe you can request like I did. I was able to request for an iron for no additional cost. 

Pro tip: Let your hotel know about your requests such as an extra towel or umbrella or if you need a hair dryer. Your hotel will certainly do their best to accommodate all requests but this is subject to availability and the hotel's discretion. 

A night at El Masfino's deluxe room is at P 5,124.00. The rate is inclusive of breakfast and swimming at the water park for two (2) people only. Two children below 12 years old are free of room charges but not for breakfast and swimming. Breakfast and swimming rates are listed in the bottom part of this article. 

An extra adult is charged P800.00. The fee is inclusive of breakfast and swimming.

Suite Room


bedroom
bathroom
dining area
Guests can cook here

El Masfino has 4 Suite Rooms with perfect garden-view. Each Suite has a separate bedroom with kingsize bed, two bathrooms, mini kitchen, dining area, living area with long comfy-couch and cable tv. The room is accentuated by fancy wall paintings and elegant capiz chandeliers. The floor is tiled. The living area has an accent mat that looks like a sisal carpet and a large brown velvet sofa.

The Suite Room accommodates up to 6 people and costs P 8,540.00. Just like in the Deluxe Rooms, the rate is inclusive of breakfast and swimming at the water park for two (2) people only. Two children below 12 years old are free of room charges but not for breakfast and swimming. Breakfast and swimming rates are listed in the bottom part of this article. 

An extra adult is charged P800.00. The fee is inclusive of breakfast and swimming.


Hotel Amenities


After taking our lunch, we had a tour of the entire property to see the hotel amenities. 

At the pavilion, there is a small, air-conditioned business center equipped with more than 4 desktop computers, printer, large sofa, and power outlets. A souvenir shop is next to the business center. Guests who forget swim wear can buy here. A bikini top is around 10-15 USD (~500-800 pesos). Other souvenirs can be bought such as shirts, bags, accessories, and so on. Elegant comfort rooms are adjacent to the business center and souvenir shop.

On the either side of the pavilion, you can find the coffee bar to the left, and the KTV room to the right. A few more walks and you can see the playground. Kids and the kids -at-heart can enjoy in this happy place.  

El Masfino's playground
Picnic area at El Masfino

Next to the playground is the picnic area that looks like a mini-forest. It is my favorite place. It could be a venue for quiet reflection or for feast with family or friends. It has tall, slender trees, wooden tables, and BBQ grills for unique outdoor dining. 

The clubhouse is within easy walking distance from the pavilion. But a golf cart is on the wait for guests who want a quick transfer.

One of El Masfino's Cabanas

Cabanas or Nipa Huts are poised near the pool side. 

Special Nipa Huts serve as spa for guests who wish to be pampered. There is no fitness gym but guests are free to use their yoga mat and stretch by the poolside or swim through the 6 feet lap pool.

enjoying at El Masfino's wave pool with Blaine is Lost!

A definite plus for El Masfino Hotel is its wave pool. With huge rafts and life vest, swimmers can enjoy the water ride through the lazy river. The wave pool's depth ranges from 3 ft to 6 ft. Guests can also enjoy water basketball.

Protip: Don't forget to bring your swimwear, sunscreen, and your swimming goggles.

El Masfino's water park


Avid golfers can benefit from the hotel's well-groomed golf course. Read more about our tour around the Royal Northwoods Golf and Country Club here.

Just hanging here by the pond because I can't golf LOL 

Another hotel amenity is the thrilling obstacle course intended for company getaways or team-building activities. Let me share a separate article for these activities.


Dining experience at the Clubhouse


Lunch with Mr. Myke Celis and fellow bloggers at El Masfino Clubhouse

For lunch, we ate Teriyaki chicken, rice, and iced tea. The chicken was tasty and the dish was well-presented with colorful stir-fried vegetables on the side. The appetizer was a lettuce soup with cream of mushroom. Unlike breakfast, lunch menu is not set. The dish depends on what the chef cooks for the day. 

Our afternoon snack was pancit canton, banana shake, and that mouthwatering turon! I loved it! 

Lunch!

Another thing I loved in the restaurant is their vinegar. I wish I could buy a bottle of it actually... Our dinner was grilled porkchop and milkfish. It was simple but tasty... So far, the dishes that we tried were all flavorsome and stuffing.

Delectable food, excellent staff service and restaurant ambiance all contributed to my impressive dining experience at El Masfino Clubhouse. 


Activities to Try


El Masfino has a diverse number of activities: there is golfing on an adjacent championship eighteen-hole course; outdoor barbecues; ball games; water sports; karaoke; obstacle course; and some motorized sports like dune buggy for an additional cost.

Click here to read about El Masfino's must try activities.



Rates 


Day tour is possible at El Masfino. Guests on this day pass can enjoy the water park and other activities at an additional cost. Please refer to the price list below. 



Guests on day tour have the option to either rent the Cabana or the Suite Room for the day's accommodation. 

The Cabana is good for 10 people and is priced at P700. 

The Suite is good for 6 people at P3,360.00. Guests opting to rent this room can get a complimentary swimming for 2 people. Room use is from 6 AM to 6 PM. Guests can use the room's kitchen and cook their own food.  

Living and dining area of El Masfino's Suite Room


How to get to El Masfino Hotel & Resort


The most convenient way to get to El Masfino is through a private vehicle. Commuting via bus and tricycle could be an option but NOT recommended. The tricycle ride from Baliuag town proper may be pricier. Also, there might not be any trics available when you go out of the property so it's either you hire the driver to wait for you or get his number to fetch you afterward. Either way, it's a hassle. It is also worth noting that there is no UBER or Grab in the vicinity. Taxis are scarce. 

Protip: Rent a car from Manila to go to this place.

El Masfino is located inside the Royal Northwoods Gold and Country Club. Check out this map:


Private Transportation


If you have private transportation, you can get to El Masfino in about an hour and thirty minutes. It's a 56 km distance from Quezon Avenue, Quezon City. The fastest route is via Pan-Philippine Hi-way with NLEX tolls and private roads.

Directions (you can easily get this from from google maps):

Route 1, via NLEX, take Sta. Rita Exit and traverse through Doña Remedios Trinidad Highway. Take a right turn at Capihan Junction (Capihan Chapel) and travel along Viola Road which is 4km towards the Royal Northwoods Country Club.

Route 2, via NLEX, exit at Balagtas and travel straight along Plaridel By-Pass Road towards Gen. Alejo Santos Highway. Make a left turn towards Bustos Municipal Hall and right turn at C.L. Hilario St. From there, you will pass the Bustos Bridge, then make a right turn towards Calle Rizal of Brgy. Sabang. Go straight towards Sampaloc Junction and Dona Remedios Trinidad Highway. Make a right turn at Capihan Junction(Capihan Chapel) and travel 4km through Viola Road towards the Royal Northwoods Country Club

Commute


If you are coming from EDSA, take a bus bound for Baliuag. Get off at Baliuag town proper. From there, take a tricycle to the Royal Northwoods Golf and Country Club. 


PARTING WORDS


Our stay at El Masfino Hotel & Resort was absolutely indulging. 


With its lush, well-maintained environment, countless thrilling activities to try, exceptionally congenial staff, quite pleasing accommodation and foodat reasonable rates, this hotel lives up to its name! 

Do we recommend this hotel?


Absolutely! I recommend this place to you - couples, families with kids or groups of travelers. There's a reason many visitors return here often. I will come back here! 


Book a room at El Masfino Hotel & Resort now!



What do you think about El Masfino Hotel & Resort? Have you stayed here before? Have you stayed at a similar luxury hotel? If you haven't, would you like to stay here? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below! Thanks for your time!

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