Thursday, April 28, 2016

Philippine Airlines (PAL) the country's flag carrier recently launched the new Mabuhay Miles Travel Card, the industry's first membership and prepaid card in one! Now, you can fly, shop, dine, drive, and unwind anywhere in the world with your Mabuhay Miles Travel Card. You no longer have to worry about fluctuating currency conversion rates or the hassle of changing your local currency before flying. All you have to do is to load up your card and voila you're ready to explore the world. Your Mabuhay Miles Travel Card can be used to any establishments both online and offline, as well as thru ATMs in over 150 countries where UnionPay International is accepted.

The new Mabuhay Miles Travel Card was launched at Shangri La Mactan in Cebu. It was attended by a number of bloggers from Manila, Bacolod, Cebu and Davao as well as the PAL Team headed by its President and COO, Mr. Jaime Bautista

Pinoy Travel Bloggers at the Launching of Mabuhay Miles Travel Card

Davao Represent!

During the launch, Ms. Mayette Cassanova, AVP of Loyalty Program revealed the exciting features of the new Mabuhay Miles Travel Card. She shared that it is a multi-currency prepaid card and it's the first of its kind in the Philippines. It provides more options  to earn and redeem miles. 

It was a night full of surprises. There were lots of prizes and miles given to the bloggers. 

Experiencing the Mabuhay Travel Card

The day after the launch was the most exiting part as we were able to use the card to shop at SM Seaside City Cebu. We're lucky to be the first ones to use the card. It was such a great experience. It worked! Hahaha. Make sure you remember your PIN as you will be required to key it in when you use the card.

Aside from shopping, we also swiped our cards to stay at Marco Polo Cebu. Yes, you heard it right, you can swipe your card and use your miles to stay and relax in any of Mabuhay Miles partner hotels.

How you can get your Mabuhay Miles Travel Card?

The Mabuhay Miles Travel Card is issued to active Mabuhay Miles members who are at least 13 years old and above. For eligible members, cards will be sent to the addresses on their Mabuhay Miles profiles via courier. You will receive your permanent membership cards after your first valid activity. It will be delivered to your address within 4-6 weeks.

If you have not yet registered for an online account, you may do so here: If you are not a member yet, you may enroll here: or you can visit any PAL Ticket Offices to enrol. 

The card will soon replace the Classic Mabuhay Miles Card. It will be an additional card for the Elite and Premier ELite members and Million Milers.

Yes, it's that simple and easy. Fly with Philippine Airlines and get your Mabuhay Miles Travel Card! With Mabuhay Miles, life gets more rewarding!

A photo posted by Glen Santillan (@escapemanila) on

Monday, April 25, 2016

It was another success for Marco Polo Davao as it received the 2015 Hotel of the Year, Bold Leadership Award from Marco Polo Hotels. As a way of sharing the good news to its partners and friends from the media, Marco Polo Davao held a Thanksgiving event entitled, "Celebration of Colors" at the hotel's ballroom.

The event was led by Marco Polo Davao GM Dottie V. Würgler-Cronin and the hotel’s owning company, Halifax Davao Hotel,Inc. (the hotel’s owning company), represented by its Senior Vice-President,  Francis R. Ledesma.

Mr. Francis R. Ledesma and GM Dottie V. Würgler-Cronin

“We are very honoured to achieve this prestigious milestone, as this is a manifestation of our team’s hard-work, commitment and dedication to provide the best service quality and accommodation to our guests. This event is also our way of expressing our heartfelt gratitude to the people behind our success; which are clients, guests, associates, our owning company HDHI, and our management company, Marco Polo Hotels. Without their support, this achievement won’t be made possible” says GM Dottie V. Würgler-Cronin.

GM Dottie V. Würgler-Cronin

Mr. Francis R. Ledesma also expressed his gratitude on behalf of Halifax Davao Hotel,Inc. to the MPD Team and their honoured guests.  “Thank you Dottie for being steadfast and consistently at the helm of things. Thank you to all the officers and associates for the hard work and dedication. Thank you to all our valued guests and friends from the media who are truly part of the Marco Polo Davao family”.

This meaningful celebration also included the awarding of the 2015 Associate-of-the Year Award to the hotel’s Executive Secretary, Ms. Regina Francia Cueva; who is also fondly called as “Boodie” by her associates. “Boodie has been a great asset to the team, and she should serve as an inspiration to the younger generation of associates” says GM Dottie.

The evening was filled with great food, live music, raffle prizes and the much-awaited dance number by the hotel’s Associates of the Month who were also acknowledged during the celebration. The hotel’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Pearl Peralta- Maclang, also surprised the guests with a short video clip of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s well-wishes to Marco Polo Davao.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Japan is among the widely visited places in the world thanks to its beautiful culture and the dozen of places that you can visit while you’re there. Japan is comprised of four major islands and more than 70 cities. (Read: An Amazing Trip To Japan)

One of these cities is Narita in Chiba Prefecture. Everyone who enters Japan via the Greater Tokyo area will pass by Narita, Japan because of the Narita International Airport. Narita is also among the layover cities for a lot of connecting flights. But even when plenty of tourists pass through this place before visiting the other destinations in Japan or hopping to their next flight, Narita isn’t receiving the proper attention that it truly deserves. So here are 5 awesome things that you can do while you’re in Narita City.

1. Take a Leisurely Stroll at Omotesando Street
Fulfill your desires for designer clothes and art by walking around the Omotesando streets. It is lined with boutiques, galleries, studio and first class restaurants where you can kill time and spend plenty of your pocket money here. The street connects the JR Narita Station and the famous Shinshoji Temple. It is famous for unagi eel products. There are about 60 eel restaurants along this rood leading to the temple.

2. Visit Naritasan Shinshoji Temple
Experience Buddhism in Japan like never before with this super popular temple in Narita. This temple complex is located near the Narita Airport so you can drop by quickly after your plane touches down. It was built back in the 940 and it has been popular ever since. There are a variety of structures that you would find here, some of which are the Three Storied-Pagoda, Daihondo Hall and a lot more. To know more about its history, I suggest you hire a registered tour guide.

3. Food Trip
Visiting another country will never be complete if you don’t sample the local cuisine. Everyone can bet a hundred percent that people who would come to Narita would automatically look for a sushi restaurant that can fill their desires with the most sumptuous rolls of meticulously prepared sushi. Apart from sushi, a visitor to Narita should also try its famous Unagi. Eel is lightly broiled using traditional methods, then is grilled after brushing a sweet soy sauce.

4. Wear Traditional Costumes
Get to feel the local tradition by trying on the beautiful traditional clothes of Japan. The kimono was a term that Japanese refer to as their clothing, but nowadays, tourists and even Japanese alike refer to kimono as their traditional clothing. It was introduced back in the year 740 as a simple garment, until it evolved to how you know it today. The gorgeous colors of the kimono and the silky feel of the cloth used to make them will be a sure reminder of their colorful history. You can rent a kimono starting at 500 yen and you can wear it the whole day while walking at strolling around the temple town.

5. Shop till you drop
Apart from Omotesando, you’ll definitely find other places for shopping. There’s the Aeon mall which is extremely popular among foreign visitors because of its proximity to the airport. It features 150 shops that sell a variety of items like make up, gadgets and other trinkets. If you want household and food items, MEGA Don Quijote is a good place to shop. It opened in June 2015 with enhanced services for foreign visitors and has a dedicated tax-free counter. For branded stuff, just walk a few steps from AEON and MEGA Don Quijote and you’ll find shops like Uniqlo, GU and whole lot more.

Jetstar Japan flies from Manila to Narita up to 7x a week. Book your tickets now at

Narita, Japan is more than a place where you transfer for your connecting flight. It’s a beautiful city rich in culture, tradition and history. Have you ever been to Narita? What other things did you do there apart from those things mentioned above?

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Tokyo is a huge city and 24 hours would not be enough to explore it. Unfortunately, we were only given that amount of time to stay and explore Tokyo so we made sure we experience the city as much as we could. (Read: An Amazing Trip to Japan)

We left Manila via the Jetstar Japan's Inaugural Flight early in the morning and arrived in Narita after five hours. From Narita Airport's terminal 3, we walked towards terminal 2 to catch the Narita Express Train going to Tokyo. Japan Rail has an ongoing promo of 4,000 yen for a return train ticket, Narita-Tokyo-Narita for all visitors. All you have to do is show your passport which what we exactly did. After almost an hour, we arrived at Tokyo Train Station.

From Tokyo train station, we took a cab to Ginza Capital Hotel. Since the regular check in time is at 3pm, we decided to just leave our bags and head straight to explore the city. I was with Joshua and he happens to have local friends, Midori and Lina, he met during one of his travels who volunteered to accompany us in our short adventure.

With our new friends Midori and Lina at Shinjuku Garden

Because we have Lina and Midori, we didn't worry much about how to go to the destination we want to visit which basically saved us some time. Our hotel is close to a train station so we took the subway and went to Shinjuku to see the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and hoping that there would be some cherry blossoms.

After arriving at Shinjuku station, we decided to eat. We wanted ramen, so, we walked around and found a ramen house. I rarely eat ramen in the Philippines so I thought I would just share a bowl with Gabz. Our Japanese friends were surprised because they can actually finish a whole bowl, so I changed my mind and ordered a bowl for myself. Lina and Midori suggested the ramen that we should try and we ordered them. What I had was really good. It was the best ramen I have ever tasted. I actually finished the whole bowl and even ate a portion of Gabz ramen as he was not able to finish it. I officially love ramen! Hahaha. Thanks to Midori for treating us with a sumptuous bowl of ramen.

The best ramen I've tasted so far somewhere near Shinjuku train station. A huge serving for only ¥700. Thank you Lina Tsuda for the treat.
Posted by Glen Santillan on Friday, March 18, 2016

After satisfying our gastronomic cravings, we walked our way to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. When we reached the gate, I was rally hoping to see at least some cherry blossoms. And voila, when we entered, we saw a cherry blossom from afar. It wasn't looking really good but we're happy to have seen it. It's on the top of my bucketlist so I was really happy. We were so ecstatic. We took photos like there's no tomorrow. We thought that was it.

An then... as we continued exploring the park, we saw another sakura in full bloom. It was better and more picturesque than the first one. Imagine how we reacted. It was just phenomenal. I was awe-mazing. We took photos and selfies here and there. It was such an amazing experience.

Next on the itinerary was Ueno Park. It is a huge public park next to Ueno Station in central Tokyo. We did not have a lot of time so we were not able to explore much of the park. We got a good glimpse of it and if ever I will be coming back to Tokyo, I would love to explore it more.

Kalapating mababa ang lipad. #Japan Photo by Pinoy Travel Freak
Posted by Glen Santillan on Monday, March 28, 2016

It was almost dark when we left Ueno Park. We decided to go to Shibuya to see Hachiko's statue and the famous Shibuya Crossing. There were just too many people in there. After taking a photo with Hachiko, we decided to go to Starbucks as it would give us a good view of Shibuya Crossing. Midori and Lina already left so it was only the three of us left. We stayed at Starbucks for a couple of minutes and we decided to go shopping. 

A photo posted by Glen Santillan (@escapemanila) on

We were already tired so we decided to go back to the hotel. Thanks to Japan's reliable and efficient train network, we're able to go back to the hotel easily. We checked in, then went out to eat and discovered a small restaurant near the hotel. It was a semi-self service resto. The food was really good. I ate my katsudon with gusto.

We wanted to shop more so we walked to Ginza Central, unfortunately it was almost 9pm when we arrived so most shops were already closing. It was definitely  a fail. Since we can't shop, we decided to call it a night and went back to the hotel. 

I had a terrible headache so I went straight to my room and slept. Gabz and I woke up early to go to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market. Unfortunately, we arrived late so we were not able to join the tour. There's a limit of the number of tourists who can join and you have to go there before 5am. It was a bit disappointing but we just decided to explore the area a little bit then went back to the hotel.

Since we have to checkout by 9am to go back to Narita, we decided to take a breakfast at the restaurant where we had dinner at since we really love the food. I ordered a salmon breakfast meal and it was delicious. It's a good value for money!

We went back to the hotel, checked out and head back to Narita. Our Tokyo trip ended just like that. It was short but epic! I will be back for more fun and adventure.

***Jetstar Japan flies to Tokyo (Narita) direct from Manila 5x a week. Book your tickets at

Monday, March 21, 2016

Japan has always been in my bucketlist since I started traveling in 2009. I am a freelancer so I thought it would be difficult to get a visa. Luckily, the Japanese Embassy in the Philippines  has made some adjustments to ease the process of getting a Japan Visa for Filipinos.

Enjoying the Cherry Blossom (Sakura) at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

There are a number of airlines that operate a route from Manila to different cities in Japan. Recently, Jetstar Japan has launched a new route from Manila to Narita and I was lucky enough to be on their inaugural flight. (Read: Jetstar Japan Launches Direct Manila-Tokyo Flight)

Jetstar Japan's Inaugural Flight from Manila to Narita in full capacity

The moment I got hold of my passport with  a Japan visa, I got really excited. Finally, I'll be able to visit Japan and it's the beginning of spring so I was really hoping to see the famous cherry blossom. I got my passport at around 6PM and the flight was at 1AM so imagine how paranoid I was. I thought I would not be able to fly that night. Fortunately, I did. Thanks to Holiday Travel and Tours, NGP Integrated Marketing Communications and Reli Travel and Tours, I got my visa just in time for Jetstar Japan's Inaugural Flight.

It was the longest 30 minutes of my traveling life. Visa approved! Just in time for JETSTAR Japan's Manila-Tokyo...
Posted by Glen Santillan on Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The trip was very short but definitely sweet. We left Manila on March 16 and departed Japan on March 17. We basically had a full two days to enjoy Japan. We had loads of fun from the airport in Manila to exploring the attractions in Tokyo and Narita.

#Japan #Jafun sagot sa kahirapan! Hahaha. Pinoy travel bloggers @pinoytravelfreak @wandering1juan @escapemanila at @jetstar Japan's inaugural flight.
Posted by Glen Santillan on Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The good thing about flying with Jetstar Japan from Manila is its flight schedule. The flight is at 1AM and arrives in Narita at around 6AM. It departs from Narita to Manila at 8PM and arrives in NAIA at around 12MN. So there, if you take a Jetstar flight, you'll have a chance to stretch your holiday from dawn to dusk.

Aside from the schedule, I also noticed the excellent customer service provided by both the cabin and the ground crews. The flight attendants were really courteous and they would make sure that you are comfortable with your flight. 

When we landed in Narita, we were kinda hungry so after clearing the immigration, we headed to the airport's food court and had our first meal in Japan. It was good and it wasn't that expensive as I thought it would be.

First meal here in #japan #EscapeManilaToJapan #travel #Jetstar Japan now flies to Tokyo and Osaka direct from...
Posted by Glen Santillan on Tuesday, March 15, 2016

After satisfying our gastronomic cravings, we took the Narita Express Train to Tokyo. We reached Tokyo station after almost an hour, took a cab and went straight to Ginza Capital Hotel. The regular check in time in Japan is at 3PM and checkout at 10AM. Since we arrived early, we just left our baggage in the hotel and explored the city as much as we could. I'll tell you more about it in my next post. All I can say for now is, it was really great to see Tokyo for the first time!

With new friends, Midori and Lina. Thank you both for showing us the beauty of Tokyo. Photo by +Pinoy Travel Freak 

We arrived back in the hotel at around 7PM, settled down and went out again to eat and shop. We discovered a small restaurant near the hotel which offers cheap but super delish meals. It became our instant favorite resto. 

After dinner, we walked to Ginza to shop but unfortunately, the stores close at 9PM so it was a bit disappointing. Hahaha. We head back to the hotel, slept and woke up early to go to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market. 

Within the vicinity of the Tsukiji Fish Market at dawn

We checked out at the hotel at 9AM and head back to Narita. We got a chance to explore Narita in a day. Thank you to the Narita Tourism Office for showing us what the city has to offer. Indeed, it's more than just a jump-off point to Tokyo. 

NARITA: Trying out Unagi for the first time

At 8PM we departed Narita and just like that, we arrived in Manila at around 12 midnight. It was really short but memorable. I wish to go back there soon and explore more. 

Thank you Jetstar Japan for the opportunity to see Narita and Tokyo. You're awesome! 

You can book your flights at

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Traveling is an exciting prospect for most people, but most people need all the help they can get. These sites provide tips, reviews, and booking services to suit any need and budget. It would be smart to bookmark at least some of these sites to make your travel plans go smoothly and affordably.

The main value of this site guests is to offer reviews of location-specific accommodations, tours, activities, and attractions all over the world from both guests and professionals. It has a forum where you can ask questions about a specific place, and most TripAdvisor users are happy to accommodate you. You can filter the search results according to the reason for your trip and budget. It would be advisable to pay attention only to three-star reviews, as some listed sites try to boost their ratings by posting fake reviews. This is not a booking site, so it doesn’t actually sell any rooms, but they do provide you with links to partner sites. It is definitely worth bookmarking.

There is many sites for cheap flights, but if you don’t mind long layovers and airplane hopping, this is where you can get the cheapest available. It has a unique ticketing algorithm that searches possible flight combinations from 150 airlines to save you as much as 90% on your total fare. The published rates on the site may not include all fees, though. You will find out how much you actually have to pay when you book your flight. Overall, this is a great resource for budget travelers with an open-ended itinerary.

This is a good booking site for hostels anywhere in the world. Hostels tend to be much more affordable than hotels and other types of accommodations, which is why budget travelers should bookmark this page. Reviews may not always be accurate, though, so check other sites for reviews before booking.

This is a great forum for would-be travelers  where you can get everything about anything travel-related, including tons of tips on the best market places in any country and how to say “how do you do?” in Russian. The content is very well organized, provided by travel experts, and includes videos and photos. If you want to make your own contribution, you can through the blog. Whatever you need to know, you will find on this site.

Wego is very easy to use and sets you up for affordable options for flights and hotels. Simply key in your planned dates and destinations and you get a whole bunch of options.  Sign up and the site will send you email price alerts whenever a deal comes up for a particular search.  Its partners include

If you just love riding trains around Europe, then you should check out train aficionado Mark Smith’s site. He loves to share his considerable insights on how to travel frugally by train all around Europe, as well as Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. He makes it easy for newbies to travel by train and ferry more cheaply than booking your tickets on the official sites. You can definitely benefit from the experience of “the man in Seat 61.”

If you want to check out more reviews online, you can head off to Agoda to find them. It provides a lot of information about some popular accommodations, although the published rates may be a bit more than other booking sites. However, it is easy to search for places and provides you with more pertinent data than you would find anywhere else. If you find a room you like, you can always check out cheaper sites to actually book the room.

You’ve probably heard of Expedia if you have ever tried to go on budget travel, because it is one of the most recognized names in the travel booking industry. It is no wonder, really, as it has delivered among the best deals for any travel need. More importantly, it has no service fees, even if you change your itinerary after booking it, although the hotel or airlines may apply charges for changing or cancelling a booking. It rewards its customers with points for each time they to book a flight, hotel, or rental car, which can be exchanged for free travel. If you need travel insurance, you can add that to your package as well. Are you thinking of a cruise or tours? These are also available. Sign up and the site will send you notice when coupon codes are available for your needs. Some coupons may require downloading the mobile app, though, and you can’t use the mobile app to book a car or cruise. You also need to know the specific dates of your travel. Overall, though, this is a one-stop budget travel spot.

Airbnb is a great site to bookmark if you are looking for affordable accommodations.  The site is for homeowners that want to rent out an extra room or an apartment to transients for as short as a day, Many listings are much cheaper than most hotel rooms and often include amenities such as a working kitchen and laundry room, great  for budget travelers to the US and Europe. The site matches up guests that are on a budget for a 3% commission from the property owners. This is particularly important during the peak season, when most accommodations are fully booked. 

Travel insurance is something that most people think about as an afterthought, but it really is quite important. This site is particularly good for anyone under 66 years old travelling for adventure. The coverage is not as comprehensive as other medical insurance, and it does not cover pre-existing conditions, but it does cover the basics, and provide many tips for travelling safety, free language guides as well as important information about your destination. 

Did we miss anything? Please let us know by commenting below. Happy traveling!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Good news to all travelholics from the Philippines! Jetstar Japan's first international flight from the Philippines has taken to the skies with its inaugural flight to Tokyo departing at full capacity, as travelers from Manila and other cities in the country enjoy the new low-fares service offered by Japan's largest low-cost carrier (LCC).

The first Japanese low-cost carrier to operate services in Manila, Jetstar Japan’s inaugural flight from Manila to Tokyo departed at full capacity on March 16, 2016. This is the first of its three new international routes scheduled for roll-out in the coming month.

"The success of the inaugural flight heralds a new dawn for travelers here and signals the support by local travelers for our brand and low fares to Japan", said Jetstar Japan’s Chairman, Mr Masaru Kataoka, in Manila.

“Our first flight from Manila to Tokyo is sold out and we are encouraged by the solid bookings for the next few months, said Mr Kataoka.

“While a number of other carriers currently offer services to Tokyo, we are confident that Jetstar’s new direct service and timings will introduce accessibility and greater choice to travelers all year-round.

“Jetstar operates the first direct flight to Tokyo’s Narita Airport and the last flight back to Manila, giving savvy Filipino travellers more time at their destination and the benefit of stretching their holiday from dawn to dusk,” said Mr Kataoka.

“Filipino travellers familiar with the Jetstar brand have come to expect a standard for reliable on- time performance, great value and a consistent level of customer service whenever they fly with us from Manila to Singapore.

“Now, as the largest LCC in Japan, our customers can fly to Tokyo and connect to many destinations across Japan through its dense domestic network,” Mr Kataoka added.

Boasting the largest fleet of 20 aircraft among LCCs in Japan, Jetstar Japan is the only LCC that flies directly to Japan’s three major cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. In terms of network, Japan’s largest LCC with more than 50% of the market share offers the largest number of domestic routes among Japan’s low-fares airlines.

The airline has carried close to 13 million passengers since its launch in 2012.

Jetstar Japan had recently announced additional services from Manila to Osaka on 1 April (currently served by sister airline, Jetstar Asia) and commencement of the new Manila-Nagoya service on 7 April.

Jetstar Japan currently operates up to 100 services a day and flies to 11 domestic destinations in Japan and two international destinations.

Manila is the third international destination added to Jetstar Japan’s roster after the launch of services to Hong Kong and Taipei in 2015.

The new return services are operated on Jetstar Japan’s 180-seat Airbus A320, with a flight time of just over five hours.

One-way economy starter fares from Manila start from PHP4448. Book now at

About Jetstar Japan

Jetstar Japan is the largest low-cost carrier in Japan. The airline started flying in July 2012 to Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo, Fukuoka and Okinawa. Other domestic destinations currently include Nagoya, Oita, Kagoshima, Matsuyama, Takamatsu, and Kumamoto. In 2015, Jetstar Japan added Hong Kong as its first international destination, followed by Taipei. To date, Jetstar Japan has served 12 million customers in just three years of operations. It currently has a fleet of 20 new Airbus A320s configured for 180 passengers. Jetstar Japan is a joint venture between the Qantas Group, Japan Airlines, Mitsubishi Corporation and Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation. Jetstar Japan operates more than 100 flights a day to 17 domestic routes and 5 international routes.