Done it + Seen it

Cebu 2011 Part 1 – The Trip

The airline tickets for this trip was purchased about six months ago in August 2010, during a seat sale.

It cost us about this much for two round trip tickets (MNL-CEB-MNL):

  • Base Fare: PHP 2,796.00
  • VAT: PHP 339.12
  • Aviation Security Fee: PHP 30.00
  • Web Admin Fee Fee: PHP 224.00
  • World Wide Fund: PHP 240.00
  • Total: PHP 3,629.12

The World Wide Fund item is to offset the carbon footprints for the plane ride πŸ™‚

I know of some people who have gotten their fare for a much lower price – 17 pesos! – but I don’t have their luck and speed when it comes to making online reservations. I also remember regular local airfare costing no lower than 6k roundtrip per person a few years ago, so I know that I’m not getting a bad deal with this price.

A Cord Taxi took us to the airport (this is the name of the new World taxis), and cost only 200 pesos from QC to Pasay. We arrived with a lot of time to spare for our 1515 flight. This despite the fact that I came at noon time from work when I planned to have been home by 10AM. The line at the check-in counters was quite long but we found ways to entertain ourselves ;). We didn’t have much money on us so we decided not to grab any snacks before the flight. I took a few photos with my BB and tweeted them too!

V for Vera!

And the sign pointing to Gate 133

As well as Alfred while waiting to board

NAIA Terminal 3 is a huge place and the waiting areas are spacious and normally very cold. The Gate for our flight was at the ground floor where people from three or four other flights were waiting to board. The place was packed, most of the seats were taken! I guess that’s a good sign for local tourism. The boyfriend played a game on the iPad while I started reading one of the books I brought with me for the trip – Can You Keep a Secret?. I didn’t get too far with reading though – I ended up taking a nap until boarding time πŸ™‚

Since we were at the ground floor, I’d already expected to walk to the plane on the ground rather than through a tube. We actually had to board a shuttle that took us to where our plane was:

While waiting for the rest of the passengers to board the back bus, I snapped a few more photos πŸ™‚

And this was the plane that took us to Mactan, safely:

Although boarding was on time, takeoff was delayed a bit. There was a lot of traffic at the runway. I wasn’t surprised, seeing that our flight was rescheduled a week or two earlier. It was supposed to be the noon flight but was pushed back by three hours.

It was a full flight and all seats were taken. There were a few babies too although I didn’t notice them cry so much because of the pressure on my ears. I thought I was going to endure the pain and get a migraine on my first night in Cebu, until I remembered I could always do the diver’s equalizing trick to relieve my ears of that pressure! I had to do it a few times until after arriving in Cebu, but it was well worth it.

It was a smooth flight, except for the boyfriend spilling his orange juice all over both our legs (yes it was Minute Maid, no I did not win the blog contest :(). Oh, a tip when you’re taking Cebu Pacific on budget airfare – bring your own drinks. The drinks that normally cost 20 pesos at your corner grocery store is sold at 50 pesos! Since it’s a short flight anyway, just drink lots of water before the flight and you’ll be packed until touchdown.

I’ve always commented how we don’t have a lot of photos together, so while on the plane, we took a few goofy ones! haha πŸ™‚

From Mactan International Airport, we took a metered taxi to the hotel. It probably took 15-20 minutes and the fare was about 300 pesos, I felt that that was too high compared to what we had to pay from QC to Pasay, but what the heck.

So that’s part 1 of our Cebu trip. Stay tuned for the next one πŸ™‚

Going on a Trip

Our Cebu vacation is a week away but we haven’t booked our hotels yet. We’re hoping we could get discounts for Be Hotel and stay there for all three nights we’re going to be in the city. Then we’ll just arrange a city tour, the Sky rides, and island hopping.

If that doesn’t work out, we’ll try to arrange for a trip to Bantayan Island. We’ might stay there for two nights if we decide to go. I would love to revisit Badian but it would have to be a choice between the two sites, we can’t go to both places. I was there almost 14 years ago with ECPAT friends. The last time I visited Cebu City was around 12 years ago I think. Both visits were quite an experience. This time would be very different because it’s supposed to be all leisure. πŸ™‚

I do wish there was a reliable vacation rentals directory for Cebu. It would make planning this trip easier. There are actually a few sites out there, but I don’t believe they offer the best rates. Plus, there’s no way to really see what you’re opting for. Oh well. There’s very few people in Cebu whom I personally know that I can ask to host us – not to house us really, just to help us get around. But I’m a bit shy to ask them. πŸ™‚

Do you have suggestions for Cebu?

All this planning for a four-day getaway excites me, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to say that I was browsing for vacation rentals Paris? It is still my dream destination – Paris and all of Europe!

Someday πŸ™‚

Dad & Daughter’s Day Out – Quiapo

(This post has been sitting in my drafts for three days)

I remember a time when Quiapo was alien territory for me. I’d pass by the church many times throughout the years and see the mass of people that always seem to mill around the area, but I’ve never really been there. Β Not before a class project we had to do for a Pscyh class (what was the class called again, with Dr. De Castro? Not 108.) maybe ten years ago. My groupmates and I decided to go to Quiapo Church and the surrounding area. Alfred offered to join us and we met up with him at Plaza Miranda. But that’s old news.

In the past three to five years, Quiapo has become a common destination for us. Before, it was to buy beads at Wellmanson (tama ba?). Then the purpose for the visits changed, we’d go to the camera stores along Hidalgo. Sometimes we’d go to the optical shops for Alfred’s glasses.

Yesterday, Dad and I were there to get speakers for tonight’s videoke session. ‘Twas the first time in a long time that Dad and I had a day out just the two of us, and the first time we went to Quiapo together.

I took pictures from my BB while we were on the road, and sent tweets about it. Here’s the story for those not following on my Twitter:

No traffic along EspaΓ±a, what a relief! This was at around 3PM when one would expect traffic to start building up, specially two days before Christmas. I guess the mass of people were elsewhere, like Ortigas center where the big malls are.

We only slowed a bit at the Quiapo underpass. Before getting here, we had to pass through the Q.Ave-Lacson intersection where we were stopped by traffic cops. Dad was on the turn-left lane before he realized that that’s what it was. The green light was on for vehicles going straight through so Dad waited for an opportunity to switch lanes and we could go on our way. Unfortunately, the yellow cops saw us and stopped us right in the middle of the intersection. Dad explained how he wasn’t aware of it, and the good cop eventually let us go, without a ticket. No, we didn’t have to give him pamasko.

Upon arriving at this area, with a view of the Isetann Mall, my Dad started reminiscing. He said that Isetann used to be where the famed Cinerama was. It used to be state-of-the-art cinema of its time (60’s maybe). It was also the site of the studio where his grandfather’s radio program aired from. His lolo is Buenaventura Medina, Sr. Because he worked there, he had access to movie passes and that’s how Dad and his siblings got to see the first film with sense-surround (his terms), How the West Was Won.

He shared other bits of childhood memories too, like having a spot at the breakfast table of his Lolo who lived next door. He says he was the only apo who went there for brekky. I should record his stories.

After we got the speakers from Joy’s at Raon (lowest prices), we left the boxes in the car and walked all the way to Excelente to get us some ham. Ang daming tao! It’s like each person who emerges from this thick layer of people was coming off a victory in battle. It didn’t really take too long, maybe ten minutes. That’s Dad there in white on the far left. We ate all the ham he bought today, it really is yummy and worth the money spent for it. Dad only got half a kilo and we shared some of it with Papa. Now Dad’s thinking of going back there to get more.

Dad also showed me where the Globe Lumpia House is. I love their lumpia! Alfred and I couldn’t find it before, mostly because we never asked around for it. We thought it was a bigger place, more noticeable. I was surprised that something so famous was a humble place like this. We walked all the way back to Raon from Excelente to buy lumpia for dinner. We sat at their ‘dine-in’ space to sip some Sarsi while waiting for our take-out.

When we passed through the first time, the place was jam-packed on both sides. People just go for the lumpia and nothing else. πŸ™‚ The second time we peeked in, there was more room. Thankfully.

The walk back from Excelente to Globe was a long one through people-packed streets. If you weren’t careful, you could get run over by a kuliglig. As for us, it wasn’t the kuligligs that were bent on killing is, am L300 delivery vehicle was backing away from his parking space and trying to maneuver. He wasn’t mindful of the people (and vendors) he could hit though, he was backing up as if the sea of people would magically part for him! Everyone banged on his rear to get his attention!

From the lumpia house to the car, it was a comfortable walk through the stores selling all sorts of uniforms, gun replicas, etc.

I took this final photo from inside the car on our way home. The sun was setting but that didn’t mean goodnight for Quiapo just yet, it was still bustling with people. As for us, we were back on the road, and it was a pleasant drive with very minimal traffic.

Near UST, Dad commented on how the street seemed to look better. I think they laid concrete over the old road, and then they fixed up the middle island with those new fences. Β The streetlamps were changed too. Does this mean no more flood for this strip?

Anyhoo… it was a fun afternoon at Quiapo with Dad. πŸ™‚

Gearing up for a long weekend

I know that in the US, this weekend was the three-day Labor Day weekend. We definitely felt it here too, miles and miles away, because calls to outsourced customer service accounts dipped. πŸ™‚ Here in the Philippines, next weekend will be a long one, owing to the declaration of a non-working holiday to mark the end of Ramadan. Many, even non-Muslims, are gearing up for a short vacation.

Even my nephew was talking about a trip to Ace Water Spa with my parents, and he didn’t seem to have the intention of asking me to tag along. He told me yesterday that they were going back there, so I asked when. He said, “sa three-day weekend ba yun?” πŸ™‚

It would be nice to take a dip this weekend. Wonder if chlorine in the pools would be okay for my, by then, week-old rebonded hair? πŸ™‚

back view πŸ™‚

Hay. I wish we could somewhere this weekend too. A quick trip to Baguio, or nearer, Tagaytay. Or an overnighter somewhere, even a hotel in the city! I wonder how weekend Branson vacations are like? I’ve read a blogger talk about planning their trip there, or it happening now this Labor Day weekend?

The next and really only trip Alfred and I have planned is the one to Cebu next year, in February. Oh shoot! I wonder if it’s coinciding with a colleague’s wedding?

Okay, I just checked, and it does. Our last day there, is the day of the wedding. Not that I’ve been invited yet, but since we talk about it, is it safe to assume that I am? πŸ™‚ Oh no, that would be sad. I wouldn’t want to miss it, but our tickets are non refundable and not re-bookable. Or maybe it is, I’ll have to see. They hadn’t set their wedding date yet at the time we got the tickets. πŸ™

Photowalk: Lamesa EcoPark

It was on a warm sunny Saturday afternoon in July that we finally succeeded in going out for a photo walk. Our destination: the LaMesa EcoPark in Fairview, Quezon City. The Lamesa Ecopark is situated inside the LaMesa Watershed, the primary source of drinking water of about 12 million Metro Manila residents (source). According to the LaMesa Ecopark website, the watershed is 2700 hectares big! Of this, 700 hectares is the reservoir (dam) itself, with the surrounding forest being the remaining 2000 hectares. The reservoir supplies clean drinking water to Metro Manila, while the forest helps clean the air.

A long time ago, my grandfather used to bring the entire family to picnics at LaMesa Dam. I was either too young to remember those trips, or I wasn’t born yet at the time. I do remember cousins, my parents and aunts talking about those picnics though. Due to lack of funds for the MWSS which manages the area, the surrounding park had fallen into ruin. In the last decade, the ABS-CBN Foundation, through its programs for Bantay Kalikasan, endeavored to rehabilitate the park and reforest affected areas. The 33-hectare public park is found along the natural boundaries of the watershed and is 40 meters below the reservoir. Proceeds from the entrance fees are used towards the continuous efforts to preserve the health and beauty of the watershed.

I first visited the park years ago when they had just reopened it to the public. My day brought us there with my mom, my nephew Esban and his older sister Dal. We had wanted to swim in their pool but there was just too many people. We ended up just having a picnic (without a table because all were taken and there were no huts at the time) under the trees, and then we had so much fun dancing and laughing while bathing in the rain. Yes, we danced in the rain because the sky really went all out while we were there. It was so much fun. πŸ™‚

Since getting Maxine last year, we have wanted to troop to LaMesa to practice shooting. We’d always thought it would be a hassle to commute to the place. Boy were we wrong! We took a cab from here to EcoPark and it cost around 150 pesos, but it was easy peasy. From there, you could just hop on to a tricycle – they’re right outside the exit waiting to take you to Commonwealth Avenue where you can take a jeepney, FX or taxi to wherever you’re going.

Though I was already sleepy on the way (I came from shift, and had work that evening too), I went prepared. My camera battery was fully charged, I was wearing tights and rubber shoes for freedom of movement, and a comfortable shirt. After all, the trip had two goals: to break a sweat walking, and to practice our photography. We successfully did both! Now, we plan on going out each week. Whoever said you can’t hit two birds with one stone? I actually hit several here: bonding with the boyfriend, practice photography, have more physical activity! Doing all these work like all the best weight loss products available out there.

It’s difficult to pick just a few favorite photos to showcase here, so if you’d like to checkout all the photos, they are on this Flickr set.

Let’s start with some flower shots shall we?

I love how this one came out. It was a really vibrant blood-red color. I forgot which part of the park this was in though.

I don’t really wear yellow, and not much orange either, but I love the two colors together be it on these flowers, or on a fire tree. πŸ™‚

I love the purple tinge on these small flowers. It would have really been good had there been signs near these plants so we would know what they’re called, Hehe. I think that this photo could be used as background for a card. πŸ™‚

I didn’t use any textures on this photo yet the bokeh effect was amazing. I think it took on the shapes of the small leaves of these small flowers that stood unbending against the wind.

Now, who says plants need flowers to be beautiful? These certainly look pretty on their own:

I didn’t just take shots of the fresh, thriving and beautiful. There were other interesting stuff around too. The ecopark is a true thriving ecosystem, there was lushness all around but there was also decay and somehow, also death. This post is already long enough as it is so sharing those other photos will have to wait another day. If you checkout my Flickr set though, you’ll see them all there. πŸ™‚

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