Friday, May 25, 2018


What an unfortunate day to end our adventure in Cusco!

There is an ongoing transport strike in Cusco and we didn’t know about it. There was no warning from the hotel or from the airline since we have a flight today from Cusco to Lima. We even tried to roam around the historic center early in the morning to have a last glimpse. We noticed that there were no cars in the streets but we thought it’s a holiday or there’s going to be a celebration so we continued looking for the central market to shop. We also observed the police presence almost everywhere. After some time, we asked a street vendor with my broken Spanish where is the market and he told us that it’s closed because of the ongoing transport strike. We didn’t really understand much because he spoke in Spanish but we knew right there we could be in trouble because we have an early afternoon flight. We wanted to confirm what we thought, so I asked another local and he confirmed about the protest. 

Deflated tire | Photo by Nina Olaguer
We hurried back to the hotel and asked the receptionist about the strike and he said don’t worry because he can call a taxi for us. After about 20 minutes of waiting, the receptionist told us that we had to walk few blocks to meet our driver that will bring us to the airport. 

We finally head our way to the airport. We were already warned that we have to get down about 10 blocks away from the airport because there are protesters in the area. We understood, at least we don’t have to walk for around 5kms to reach the airport. Along the way, we saw fellow travelers with their luggage walking in the streets heading to the airport. We felt lucky until we were mobbed by protesters. The first attempt was unsuccessful. We were able to pass safely. After a couple of minutes, there were more protesters and the inevitable happened. 

Policemen near the airport | Photo by Nina Olaguer

They mobbed us. We don’t understand what they’re saying because they spoke in Spanish, but it was clear to us that we’re in trouble. We remained calm. They started deflating the tires of our car one by one. We begged for them to let us pass but they were serious about their cause. They don’t want vehicles running in the streets. Most of them left us after they deflated all the tires.


We still felt lucky because they did not harm us but it was a traumatic experience. We felt sad for the driver who tried to bring us to the airport. 

We had no choice but to walk going to the airport. One of the protesters even guided us how to get to there. I checked my offline map and saw that the airport is about 2kms away. We started walking as fast as we could until we reached a roundabout with lots of policemen. 


The street leading to the airport was cordoned so that protesters will not be able to go near the airport. There was another car who offered to bring us to the airport so we immediately took the offer since it’s still around 1km. We were still worried that we will get mobbed again but luckily we arrived at the airport safely. I just hope that the protest has ended peacefully. Whattaday!



Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Home to Roxas City, the fastest growing city in the Western Visayas region, the province of Capiz is much-adored due to its abundance of seafood.  Hailed as the Seafood Capital of the Philippines, the province enjoys a continuous supply of diverse seafood allowing both locals and tourists the opportunity to enjoy the freshest of sea bounties any time of the year.  While this is certainly front and center to Capiz, there is another side to it that is equally worthy of accolade.  We had the chance to visit both Roxas City and Ivisan during our Panay tour, and a day proved to be insufficient to see everything and gorge on anything generously served to us.

Roxas City Plaza

“I took a pill in Ibizan [Ivisan]” – Mike Posner

Contrary to what the song connotes, the only thing we took and can’t get enough of was the warm welcome of Ivisan, Capiz.  Travelling from Tibiao, Antique to Ivisan, we prepped ourselves for a cookie-cutter city tour we were set to do for the day.  The plan was to go around Roxas so we were all city-tour-geared complete with our sneakers.  I, in particular, completed my city-tour look with a playsuit and my capiz shell earrings.  4 hours in, we reached Ivisan and met with Mr. Rophine Visorio of Capiz Tourism and Cultural Affairs who served as our tour guide for the day. He quickly mentioned that he was relieving someone else of the part due to an urgent concern.


View from Ivisan Municipal Hall
Since part of this trip was coordinated with the local government, we paid a courtesy call to Mayor Jose Noel Yap who proudly told us about their sustainable seafood practices that treat Ivisanons to a year-long supply of crabs and oysters.  Truth be told, the only words I heard were “year-long” and “crabs and oysters.”


Thank you to Ivisan Mayor Jose Noel Yap for the warm welcome!
Post courtesy call, we were given the day’s itinerary which included a (surprise!) quick island hopping. This leg of the trip was quickly proving to be a serendipitous discovery of Capiz despite the fact that I had to fish out my flip-flops and swimming essentials from my overpacked luggage stowed with other overpacked luggages.  We whisked from the town hall and 20 minutes later came Patio Beach.

Patio Beach

What better way to cool down than to have a classic roadside pinipig crunch. 

There's a beach!
A beach just by the roadside but certainly not one to be dismissed.  We literally alighted from the van, went down a few flights of stairs and voila! A beach! And one of the most glorious boodle feasts I have set my eyes (and stomach) on awaited us.  Mr. Mayor certainly was not overselling when he said “year-long” and “crabs and oysters.”  The heat of the noonday summer sun was no match compared to the stunning beach view, great food, and amazing company that was our memorable first meal in Capiz.  An hour or so of nothing but oohh’s, aahh’s, OMG’s, yumm’s, and food-appropriate expletives, we headed on out to island hop.


Just looking at this makes me want to go back to Capiz.


It was nice to have finally met the famous Ivisan crabs and oysters!


Fresh squid


The warm weather is a non-issue even if you're having a hot soup as long as it is this yummy.


Mabaay Island

Think of it as a small ala-Survivor series island and you’ll get the picture.  A patch of beach against lush trees that comes with its own mini sandbar was enough for me to jump in for a quick swim.  I loved the beach; the sand was good, and the water was not that salty, you can open your eyes.  After a few minutes, we had to go back to Patio Beach where our van awaits.

If not for another boat of tourists, we had the island for ourselves.


Sandbar in Mabaay Island.


CabugaoIvisan, Capiz
0929 793 4284

Birthed in part by Typhoon Yolanda and mostly by the decision to leave Metro Manila’s rat race, CVF joins the growing agritourism industry by providing visitors a front row seat to farm life through their bed and breakfast. Adapting an eat-what-you-grow principle, organically-grown vegetables, and eggs from cage-free chickens and ducks can be harvested and bought from the farm.  Various tree parts from Yolanda’s aftermath got another lease on life and have been used extensively as well.  We met with the owners, Jane and Jubail, who treated us more like their long-time friends on a homecoming.  It goes without saying that a lot of laughter, words of encouragement, and hugs were exchanged before we went our way. 




Imagine waking up to this.


Running with ducks make for a good exercise after feasting in the Seafood Capital - one of the many ways to #CaptureCapiz.
Palirong Tricyle Ride

The palirong is Capiz’ version of Manila’s tricycle on steroids just as Sagada’s toploader jeep is to Manila’s jeep.  Rophine had us experience riding the palirong twice because you know, we had to switch places and go from riding on top to clutching for our dear lives while standing in the bumper part.  The funny part was we were riding really slowly as if following some procession and yet we managed to let out a shriek or two there. I'm sure we looked silly all tensed up considering these tricycles run as normal tricycles do at 4 times the normal capacity.

Not your ordinary tricycle ride, the Palirong can fit approximately 20 people excluding the driver - just one of the many ways to #CaptureCapiz
(The real) Roxas City Tour

Santa Monica Parish Church and Church Bell

Also known as Panay Church, it was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute, and a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum.  You cannot go to Capiz and miss visiting the church. It was amazing to behold a structure that saw history as it unfolded real-time and stood long enough to oversee new ones come to life.  Home to the biggest Catholic Church bell in Asia, made with 70 sacks of coins donated by the townspeople, I was left awestruck by the idea that I’m face-to-face with something I only got to read about in books.


The text on the biggest Catholic church bell translates to: "I am God's voice which I shall echo and praise from one end to the other of the town of Panay so that the faithful followers of Christ may come to this house of God to receive the heavenly graces."
Underneath the 10.4 ton Panay Church bell. Photo by: Paola O



Roxas City Plaza

Brimming with a rich history spanning from the Spanish to American periods, the city plaza is good for sit-down conversations to get acquainted more about Roxas. The expansive 1.5-hectare space has eight key landmarks: the Immaculate Concepcion Metropolitan Cathedral, Capiz Provincial Capitol Complex, Rizal monument, Roxas City bridge, Roxas City fountain and rotunda, gazebo, the President Manuel Roxas monument, and Ang Panublion Museum.  As I mentioned earlier, we had a rather packed itinerary we were unable to spend more time here.


This Rizal monument is the exact replica of the one in Luneta.

Immaculate Concepcion Metropolitan Cathedral
Ang Panublion Museum

From a water tank in 1910 to being a panublion which is a Hiligaynon term for “the guardian of precious things,” the museum features the memorabilia of prominent Capiznons, as well as numerous artifacts and collections of cultural icons.


Ang Panublion Museum houses the actual 1940 Fleetwood Cadillac 75 limousine used in Pres. Roxas' inauguration on July 4, 1946

Ancestral House of President Manuel Roxas

Too bad it was late when we arrived there, the house was closed already.  It didn’t stop us though from taking a quick picture at the façade just so we can say, “We were there!”


Photo by: Franco Ayson



We arrived shortly before dusk and were a bit worried we won’t be able to enjoy this part of the tour.  It was after all our last stop, and our senses have been consistently stimulated since that lunch in Patio Beach.  Alighting from our van, we were greeted with smiles and a concerned question of “What took you so long? We have been waiting for you.”  It was a mix of embarrassment and joy when we learned that they have prepared a “snack” for us and they have been waiting for quite a while.  This “snack” in question, was apparently a rice meal of fresh shrimps, oysters, biko, and their local version of ginger tea onboard their bamboo raft.


A 2018 ASEAN Sustainable Tourism Awardee, Palina Greenbelt Ecopark’s main attraction is a cruise along Palina river with a sumptuous seafood meal onboard.


Huge contraptions can be seen throughout the cruise as this is how they catch fish here.
My Capiz experience was certainly serendipitous, thanks to last-minute changes in tour guide, itinerary, and even unexpectedly staying longer in one place.  It still would have been a fantastic experience otherwise, but it would also mean that it may not have been this exact same one. Needless to say, my heart was full.

Our trip was made possible by a number of partners who ensured we had the best Western Visayas experience: Air Asia for our Clark-Iloilo and vice versa flights, Atty. Helen Catalbas of DOT Region 6 for our transportation during the Panay loop tour, Mayor Jose Noel Yap of Ivisan, Capiz, Capiz Tourism and Cultural Affairs, and Aph Cruz and Alex Española of Las Islas Travel and Tours.


For bookings, contact:




Punta Dulog, Pueblo de Panay, Roxas City, Capiz 
(just right across the Roxas City Terminal)


Website: www.lasislas.ph


Email: info@lasislas.ph
Hotlines:

(G) 0917-709-3856
(S) 0939-534-0828
(L) 036-521-0725

About the Author
Beng Fontiveros works as an analyst for a global bank. She bonds with Excel from day to night so she loves spending her free time traveling, practicing yoga, or just lounging at home to Netflix and chill.

BuDa or the Bukidnon-Davao Road is the to-go place for Davaoenos who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. BuDa's cold weather and lush vegetation are just some of the reasons why people prefer to spend the holidays there. Not to mention, it’s just a 2-hour trip from Davao City.


So what to do in BuDa?

There are quite a lot of things to see and do in BuDa:

Breakfast at Seagull Mountain Resort Restaurant
Start your day right! Leave Davao early and have your hot sikwati (native chocolate drink) and suman (sticky rice cake) at Seagull Mountain Resort Restaurant. It’s a must-try when you visit BuDa. It’s along the road and it’s pretty much accessible whether you are commuting or driving.


Visit Bemwa Farm
After your hearty breakfast, you can go to Bemwa Farm where you can enjoy nature at its best. You can also buy fresh strawberries and vegetables as well as preserved jams. Don’t forget to have OOTDs in the farm.


Lunch at Padre Ninno's Restaurant
If you are into pasta and pizza, then Padre Ninno's is the place to go. It's definitely worth your money. They use fresh ingredients so you'll be assured of sumptuous and healthy dishes. Aside from pizza and pasta, Padre Ninno's also offer rabbit dishes. The rabbits are grown by Padre Ninno himself.


Explore Hills View Mountain Villa
Experience cloud gazing at Hills View Mountain Villas located in Marilog District, Davao City, a few minutes away from Padre Ninnos. It’s a nice place to unwind, relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. It’s a great place to do photo shoots because of its breath-taking sceneries.

A view from Hills View Mountain Villa | Photo by Shevy Rubiau

Dinner at Café Binukid
After a tiring day, you can head over to Café Binukid to fill your tummy with sumptuous food. Cafe Binukid is located at Highway 81 in Brgy. Marilog. It's situated along the highway so it's easy to locate when you drive along the BuDa road. They offer good food and great ambiance.


A Magic Moment
While you are exploring BuDa, do not forget to bring some light snacks and water to hydrate. It’s always a good idea to bring some crackers to fill your tummy when you get hungry. I always bring some packs of Magic Crackers whenever I travel especially when it involves hiking. 


Where to stay in BuDa?

Finding an accommodation in BuDa is easier now compared to a few years ago. You can either stay in a highland resort or rent a vacation house for some privacy. Here are some options:

Cloud 99
I have stayed in this place with two other friends and I highly recommend it primarily because of its location along the highway. There’s nothing fancy about the place but it’s affordable and is equipped with a kitchen, stove for cooking and refrigerator. This is ideal if you are planning to cook for your own meals. You may contact them at 09209702817.


Highway 81
Another option is Highway 81, located at Brgy. Salumay, Marilog District, Davao City. It's basically 81 kilometers from the city proper, thus the name Highway 81. Room rate starts at P1,800.00 for their cottage good for two people. You may call them at 0939 924 0760.


Reel Place
Located in Brgy. Lorega, Kitaotao, Bukidnon, Reel Place is a scenic place to stay in BuDa. It offers affordable accommodation as well as recreational facilities that guests can enjoy. It has a hanging bridge that connects the main building to the cottages and a great spot for photo ops and OOTDs. You may contact them at 09156033951.


So what are you waiting for? Head over to BuDa to cool off this summer season.

Sunday, May 20, 2018


As a solo traveler and a budget traveler I was accustomed to live out in my comfort zone like camping, sleeping in bus terminals and even traveling without a nice good bath for days. These may sound weird and unsanitary but for me that’s the true essence of exploring, being able to trade comfortable things for the true meaning of getting lost in nature. It always makes me ecstatic when camping is allowed in the beach. 

The calm vibe in Dampalitan Island.

I was excited when my friend invited me to visit Dampalitan Island in Padre Burgos, Quezon Province.  I must admit that this province is one of my favorite places to visit. The Province of Quezon is a paradise since it is surrounded with verdant forest and pristine islands.  We prepared our outdoor gears and we left as early as 2 am for our adventure. Also, we make sure that we are well equipped and ready for this beach camping adventure. There are buses in Buendia and kamuning bound for Lucena Grand Terminal. I suggest that you should catch the first trip to avoid traffic and delays.  Travel time is just about 4 to 5 hours.


Dampalitan Island is another treasure of Quezon Province.

Dampalitan Island is an ideal retreat to escape the hassle life in the metro. The island has a laid back charm that will capture the heart of every backpacker that is looking for a relaxing vibe. The long creamy white sand is a picture-perfect spot for overnight camping and for endless summer nights.  The island is enclosed with tropical blue waters with rich underwater life. Palm trees and agoho tres dotted the whole island and provided a nice shade from the scorching heat of the sun. The atmosphere in the whole island is simple yet mesmerizing. A perfect alternative for its much visited neighbors such as Borawan Island and Puting  Buhangin at Kuwebang Lampas.


The view of the island from the boat.

A beautiful hideout for a weekend getaway.


We arrived in the island early in the morning and we decided to look for a pristine and peaceful spot for camping. We decided to set our camps on the far right side of the island. We take a stroll in the island to explore its hidden beauty. We discovered a mangrove forest, rock formations and a beach cove with much longer powdery white sand. During the night, the sky is filled with bazillion stars which is best for star gazing while having a nice cold beer with your friends.


A tropical ambiance.

The cove located in the far right side of the island.

GETTING THERE: 

  • Bus Terminals in Buendia and in kamuning have direct route to Lucena Grand Terminal. Fare is around Php 200 to 260. Travel time is 3 hours. Catch the first trip to avoid traffic and delays.
  • Alight at Lucena Grand Terminal.
  • From Lucena Grand Terminal take a non-air conditioned bus to Unisan. Travel time is 1 hour. Fare is around Php 35 to 40. 
  • Get off at Padre Burgos market. You can buy supplies in the market before hiring a tricycle that will take you to the small fishing port in Barangay Basaio.
  • Outrigger boat dock in the port will take you to Borawan Island, Puting Buhangin at kuwebang lampas and Dampalitan Island for Php 1,700 to 1,800. Good for 10 to 15 persons. 

WHERE TO STAY:

  • Beach camping is the best option in the island. It is cheaper and adventurous. Tents can be rented at around Php 300 to Php 500. 
  • There are also rooms and cottages for rent.
  • A hammock is also a best choice.
  • There is a small store in the island that sells snacks and drinks but expect that the prices is much higher. 

IMPORTANT REMINDERS:

  • Bring your own foods and drinks.
  • Don't forget to bring your camping tools such as flashlight, toiletries, ropes, sleeping mat and cooking materials.
  • Extra money 
  • Bring your own tents and hammocks.
  • A Php 60 entrance fee is collected upon arrival.Since running water is not available in the island you can buy a gallon for Php 50 and Php 500 per drum. 

One of the "kubo" that you can rent for your stay.


About the Author:
Edss Tolentino is an aspiring travel writer, an adventure junkie and a seeker of the unknown. His goal is to explore the 7,641 islands of the Philippines and share its beauty to the world.

Thursday, May 17, 2018


As our technology advances, scammers are also becoming more sophisticated in attempting to steal personal details and money. Being alert and knowledgeable of online scams can protect you from falling as a victim. Scams target those of any age, income level, and background. 


A recent report released by Hootsuite, a US-based social media management platform revealed that the Philippines now has 67 million Internet users, with all of them active on social media.  This widespread use of the internet gives rise to the emergence of internet-related crimes such as rape, theft,  bullying and piracy which made the public, especially the youth, very vulnerable.

Because of this, Globe Telecom, being a purveyor of digital lifestyle, came out with the #makeITsafePH cybersecurity and cyberwellness campaign to educate consumers about online threats, such as online scams and what they can do to avoid becoming a victim.  The campaign also teaches the public proper online etiquette so that they would not become a source of such deplorable behavior.

So what are these online scams that are rampant today and how can you avoid them?

Fake Job Offers

If you happened to receive any unsolicited emails that offer a job, usually for a secret shopper or anything not related to your expertise, it’s a scam. After accepting the offer, you will be paid via money order or check with an amount that is more than the offered payment. Then you will be asked to give back the excess amount only to find out that the money order or check was fake.

Lottery Scams

We usually receive random texts or emails saying that we won a raffle or lottery we never joined in the first place. The message will say you’ve won the jackpot and that you need to claim it by paying a certain amount. Then you will be asked to give out personal information to verify your identity. As a result, you fall victim into the scam called identity fraud while they take away your money.

Recipient Scams

The scammer will send you an email saying that they’re looking for someone who can help them move their money quickly. Such emails are often sent by people who claim to be businessmen or royalty. You will be provided with seemingly legitimate details to make you believe it’s real.

Suddenly, you are hooked to make small payments in order to help transfer the money. Avoid emails with wrong spelling and poor grammar, and those that sound “too good to be true”.

Online Dating Fraud

If you’re into dating apps or chat rooms, you are more likely to fall into this online dating scam. Meeting someone online and falling in love with them can be a dangerous thing. When you find yourself dating someone who asks money or see your nude photos, then you might be a victim of online relationship fraud.

Anyone who abuses you by any means is not worth your time and love. There are other reliable places to find the love of your life, except these online dating sites.

Charity Scams

After calamities and natural disasters, people love to help others by donating money. Problem is, there are other people who take advantage of this. Scammers capitalize on such situation by setting up fake accounts or websites where you can donate cash for the victims of typhoon, earthquake, and other natural calamity.

Some of them will pitch and emotional email just to solicit money that actually don’t reach the needy. To avoid this, do some fact-checking and see if the sites where you intend to donate are legitimate charity organizations. Usually, they have robust websites and mission statements displayed on the site.

Bottom Line

These are only some of the most common approaches that scammers use to deceive people online. The more you know about them the less likely you’ll fall for these online scams.