Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Once in a while there comes a breakout star in the Philippine beach scene that promises to be the next best beach destination. Calaguas was once that. It seemingly appeared from out of the blue, promising to be as beautiful as Boracay yet as peaceful and unspoilt. Calaguas remains to be both of those; still beautiful and undisturbed despite being a popular tourist attraction for the past few years.

Calaguas islands are part of Vinzons in Camarines Norte. From Manila, you can get there by land through Daet. There are several bus lines that travel from Cubao to Daet, and the bus fares range from P450 to P750, and the travel ranges from seven to eight hours. Domestic flights to Naga are also available, and from Naga, there are vans that go to Daet. From Daet, there’s another van that would take tourists to Paracale, the port town that is the gateway to Calaguas. From Paracale, it’s only a matter of looking for a motorboat for rent to take you to Calaguas.

The island itself does not have hotels or resorts to accommodate tourists. Many visitors bring tents which they can pitch on the beach for a fee. For those looking for a more solid place to stay in, there are some rooms and restaurants available in Paracale. There are also no restaurants and eating establishments in the island, so tourists are advised to bring their own food. There is, however, a store in the island, but only provides the basic necessities.

The light sand and jewel toned waters pretty much maps out the things that you can do in Calaguas. The scene is perfect for lounging in the beach, going for a swim, and just getting lost in the moment. The clear waters are also perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving; just remember to take the proper equipment with you.

Aside from enjoying the waters of Calaguas, exploring the shores is also a fun activity to do. From the Mahabang Buhangin, which is where most tourists camp, one can walk from north to south of the island in under half a day. The beaches differ from each other, from the rocky beaches in the north, to the white sandy beaches in Mahabang Buhangin, and the pebbly but clear beach in the south. There are also high points within Calaguas, where the rest of the island and the Pacific are visible.

Boats can also be rented for an island hopping tour around Calaguas. Tinaga Island, Cumalasag, Pinagtakpan, Pinagcastillohan, Balagbag Maliit, Balagbag Malaki, Bendita, and Mantigbi Beach are a few of the islands that you can explore around the area.

Back in Paracale, there are old churches such as the church of St. Peter the Apostle Parish and the St. John the Baptist Parish for those looking for some religious and cultural experience. Pulang Daga beach also gives tourists a place to swim.

From Calaguas, Labo in Camarines Norte also provides attractions with its falls. You can choose among Saltahan, Burok-Busok, Malatap, and Palanas falls, or just simply visit them all. A cave tour in Cadig Cave in Labo is also an option for cave explorers.

All in all, Calaguas is between being mainstream and being off the beaten track when it comes to tourist attractions in the Philippines and is perfect for those who want to experience the best of both worlds.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Remember the days when airline food has such a bad reputation that it has almost become the standard for terrible cuisine? Thank goodness times are a changing, and airline food has upped their ante. Case in point: Air Asia’s new array of in flight food. Air Asia offers an assortment of meals to suit any picky eater’s taste. Plus, the meals are Asian inspired, so diners will always feel at home even at above 35,000 feet in the sky.

For domestic flights, Air Asia offers sandwiches, perfect for satisfying cravings during short trips. Passengers can choose between Chicken Caesar and Kani sandwiches (P130 each), which they can pair with noodles or chips. 

For longer flights from the Philippines, Air Asia offers rice meals in three varieties: 

Uncle Chin’s Chicken Rice, a roasted chicken meal seasoned with Uncle Chin’s special secret chilli, ginger, and garlic sauce. This is one of my favorites. I always order this whenever I get the chance. 

Beef Caldereta, a beef stew from the Philippines made with tomato sauce, tomato paste, garlic, bell peppers, onions, and peppercorns 

Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak, made with coconut rice, Pak Nasser’s special chilli sambal and juicy chicken rendang, with fried anchovies, crunchy peanuts, and half a hard-boiled egg on the side. The crunchy peanuts and fried anchovies added texture to the dish and the sambal sauce perfectly complements with the chicken. Highly recommended for travelers who loves Asian food.

The meals above are worth P200, but passengers can get a 20% discount if they pre-order the meals 24 hours before the flight. 

For flights to China and Korea, Air Asia offers passengers with the following delicacies, worth P230 each: 

Korean Beef Steak, tender beef cooked in perfectly complementing sweet sauce 

Honey Glazed Soy Chicken, made with chicken breast doused with sweet-and sourness of the honey lemon sauce. 

What meal is complete without dessert? Air Asia has got that covered as well with its unapologetic roster of sweet treats: Choco Banana Pound Cake, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and the best-selling Sinful Chocolate Cake. The cookies are really good. You'll feeel the chocolate chips mels in your mouth as you start chewing the cookies. The chocolate cake on the other hand is definitely sinfully delicious. I loved it a lot.

Now aren’t you happy that you won’t be stuck with “yucky” airline food the next time that you fly? Just fly Air Asia, and you’ll never regret ordering that in flight meal!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Baguio City has been THE Summer Capital of the Philippines ever since the Americans built their colony there. Today, it’s still a favorite among locals and foreigners alike. It’s easily accessible with a six to eight-hour bus ride from Metro Manila. When there, we recommend you visit the following places:

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Philippines is one of those underrated travel destinations in South East Asia, but it is actually a gold mine of breathtaking beaches. With 7,107 islands, you’ll never run out of beaches. Here are our top ten choices:

1. Boracay
Aah, Boracay. That not-so-hidden gem of an island with powdery white beaches and clear azure waters. Boracay offers the best of both worlds, whether you prefer a serene stay lounging on the beach or a feisty bar hopping night in its bar district. Don’t forget to try out the waters; swim and dive to your heart’s content.

2. Pagudpud
Enjoy your share of nature and culture while enjoying the beaches of Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte. Aside from the clear waters, there are other attractions along the shore such as the Bangui Windmills, the Cape Bojeador lighthouse, and the Kapurpurawan rock formations. Cap your day off chilling in a hammock by the beach.
Pagudpud Beach
3. Talicud Island, Samal
Talicud island is part of the Island Garden city of Samal, a few minutes away by boat from Davao City. Talicud is perfect if you prefer a bit of peace and quiet, since it is a relatively secluded beach. It offers top notch diving and snorkelling sites, so be ready with your underwater cameras.

Babu Santa Beach Resort\
4. Tiamban Beach
Tiamban is very accessible from the town of Romblon, but still manages to be very private and secluded. Enjoy peace and quiet along the gentle shores. There are available rooms to spend the night in, but we suggest you try camping under the clear night skies of Romblon.

Tiamban Beach
5. Panglao Bohol
Panglao beach in Bohol offers the full vacation experience. You can choose from the different beach resorts around, each one offering access to the picturesque beach. You can do a variety of water activities like swimming or diving, but the crowning jewel of activities here is the dolphin watching. 

Panglao Beach
6.  Dakak
A plane ride away from Manila, Dakak is one of those unexpected finds, nestled between mountain and ocean. Dakak used to be a beach only resort, but it has now expanded to include a golf course and an adventure zip line to cater to your adrenaline needs.

Dakak Beach Resort
7. Bantayan Island
Bantayan Island in Cebu is a great addition to your beach inventory. Rent a boat and hop around in the surrounding islands, then stop for lunch and a swim around Virgin Island. You might also want to try swimming in the caverns of Ogtong cave.

Sta Fe Beach Resort
8. Twin Beach, El Nido
Twin Beach delivers what its name promises: beaches on either side of a strip of land. Nacpan is where all the beach life is, where you can lounge around and read a good book. Calitang is more dedicated to fishing, but that’s good because you avail of the day’s fresh catch.

Nacpan-Calitang Twin Beach | Photo by Alan Ascaño
9. Calaguas
The long boat ride to Calaguas might be off-putting, but once you step on the powdery sand, you’ll think that the effort was worth it. It’s an isolated in the northern part of Bicol, which means there are no hotels around yet. Pack your camping bags if you want to stay the night. 

10. Anguib
Anguib in Cagayan is touted as the “Boracay of the North” with its white sand beaches and shallow waters that is perfect for wading around. Aside from the usual beach activities, you can also try kayaking around. It’s still relatively undeveloped, so bring a tent if you want to stay the night.

Anguib Beach | Photo by Chad M

So there’s our top ten beaches in the Philippines. So pack your sunscreen, because you’ll never run out of beach fun in the Philippines.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Experience an exclusive escape at The Island Buenavista! The Island Buenavista is a 4-hectare exclusive island resort located at Barangay Balet, Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS). It is a piece of paradise you can call your own as you are able to rent the whole island just for you and your group exclusively. It's an ideal place to laze around while enjoying the pristine white sand beach and the resort's facilities and amenities.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Any plans yet on where you’ll spend your summer vacation? There’s no shortage of choices in terms of activities this summer, from trekking up in the mountains to diving in the seas, we’ve got you covered on all of those.

Let’s start at the mountains, shall we? Baguio is a default destination for many Filipinos, and for good reason. Aside from its cool climate, there are also a lot of activities waiting to be experienced. Try the zipline in Camp John Hay, pick berries outside the city, have a dose of art in the BenCab Museum, or just enjoy the view at Mines View Park.

Strawberries at La Trinidad, Bengeut
How to get there
Victory Liner and Genesis bus companies have hourly trip to Baguio City from their bus terminals in Pasay, Cubao and Caloocan. Fare for regular airconditioned bus is around P450. 

Sagada in Mountain Province is a stark contrast from urbanized Baguio. Nature activities abound whether you’re trekking the mountains to see the hanging coffins, climbing the stepped rice fields, or spelunking in the limestone caves. Don’t pass the opportunity to witness local customs, as the locals have ceremonies for life events like weddings, planting, and harvesting rice.

The Pine Trees of Sagada
How to get there
There are quite a lot of options in going to Sagada. One is a direct bus route from Manila to Bontoc via Coda Lines Corporation. Bus leaves at 8PM daily in their Legarda Terminal. Another option is to take an Ohayami Bus or Dangwa Transit to Banaue and then take a jeepney to Bontoc then Sagada. You may also travel via Baguio and take a GL Liner or Lizardo Transit from Baguio to Sagada. GL Bus leaves Baguio four times daily starting at 6AM and last trip is at 1PM. Lizardo trans on the other hand leaves Baguio at 9:15AM.  Fare is P220.00.

What summer wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the beach? As far as beach goes, Boracay is king. You can try out literally everything under the sun from sunbathing  to diving, to jetskiing, to parasailing, to mountain climbing. When you get tired of it all, you can always get a massage by the beach.

Boracay, Philippines

El Nido
El Nido is in itself heaven on earth, with its glittering waters and limestone islands that seem to float as if by magic. Choose your summer base among its many islands then ride your boat to the Big Lagoon where you might share a reef with a sea turtle.

El Nido, Palawan

Bantayan Island
Bantayan is a picturesque island off mainland Cebu. It’s a great choice if you’re looking to satisfy your hunger for history along with your craving for the beach. Start off your day with a dive in the reefs in the morning, then head off to the heritage sites in the afternoon to end your day.    

Sta. Fe Beach Resort, Bantayan Island

From climbing the highest peaks of Mount Apo to diving the deep waters of Samal Island, Davao offers every summer activity imaginable.  Drop by for a visit to the kings of wildlife, the Philippine Eagle, in its home base in the Philippine Eagle Center, and Pangil, the largest crocodile in the Crocodile Park.

Babu Santa Beach Resort, Talicud Island, Samal

When you talk about Bohol, you’ll immediately think Tarsier, Chocolate Hills, and the Loboc River Cruise. But Bohol is also home to up and coming Panglao Beach, which has garnered a following of its own. Its waters are clear, its beaches are great, and the food is good, too.

Chocolate Hills of Bohol

Lake Sebu
Enchanting doesn’t begin to describe Lake Sebu in South Cotabato, with its unspoilt lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. Ride a boat around the lake and visit the seven waterfalls, or hike up to the virgin forest if you’re feeling active. Don’t forget to immerse yourself in the T’boli culture at the SIKAT Cultural Center.

Hikong Bente, Lake Sebu

From the deepest south we go north to Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte. Not only it is popular for its beaches, Pagudpud also has cultural environmental sights. Drive around to see Cape Bojeador, the Bangui Windmills, Kapurpurawan Rock formation, and the scenic route of Patapat Viaduct.

Saud Beach, Pagudpud

Brace yourselves, surfing junkies, because Siargao is the place to be if you want to catch a wave. But it’s not only the waves that define Siargao, there are also dive sites and tidal pools around that you can explore. Try the shallow waters and rock formations in Magpupungko for starters.

Surfing in Siargao Photo by Miguel Navaza on Flickr

We hope these got you excited for your summer getaway. Ready your bags and your selfie sticks, because you’ll want to remember every moment of this summer.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Quest Hotel and Conference Center is a 3-star hotel in Cebu City. It has 427 comfortable and spacious furnished rooms and 10 modern meeting rooms with state-of-the art facilities. It is conveniently located in Cebu's business district and is a walking distance to Ayala Mall.

The Amenities
Quest Hotel has 374 Deluxe Rooms, 37 Premier Deluxe Rooms (with balcony), 5 Executive Suites and 11 Junior Suites that suits every traveler's needs whether it is for business or leisure. Aside from the comfortable rooms, it also has 10 state of the art Meeting Facilities ideal for conferences and summits. In addition, it has a restaurant which serves both local and international dishes and a swimming pool on the 7th floor and a pool bar at the same time so guest can sip on their favorite drink while lazing in the pool area. It is also equipped with a gym on the 6th floor where guests can workout and stay fit while they are away from their home. A free Wifi is also available in the hotel.

Swimming Pool at the 7th Floor

The Room
I stayed in one of their deluxe rooms and I must say I had a comfortable sleep during the night. The bed was huge and the mattress was so comfy. The linen was clean and smelled good. The room was spacious too. It is equipped with a side table and a writing desk. A mini bar is also available for the convenience of the guests. I was lucky to be staying in a corner room so I got a pretty good view of the Cebu Cityscape. 

Deluxe Room

The Location
I definitely love Quest's location. It is situated near Ayala Mall and within few distance from other tourist attractions. I attended the Global Voices Citizen Media Summit at the Cebu Capitol and it was close enough for me to conveniently go to the venue.

Overlooking view of the city from my room

The Service
The customer service was of high quality. I was greeted with a smile and was assisted with my needs. The staff were friendly and accommodating. 

The gym at the 6th Floor

The Buffet Breakfast
One of the best parts in staying with Quest is their Buffet Breakfast at Puso Bistro & Bar. It has a wide array of both local and international dishes and pastries. You can choose from their various choices of fresh salad and fruits to the sumptuous Filipino favorite dishes and delectable pastries.

Assorted pastries at the buffet breakfast

Overall Impression
I highly recommend Quest Hotel if you are visiting Cebu City. I'm sure you'll have loads of fun as much I did. Good food, comfortable and affordable rooms as well as state of the art facilities.

Quest Hotel and Conference Center

Archbishop Reyes Avenue, Cebu City, 6000 Philippines
t: +63 32 4025999 f: +63 32 4025986 e: CebuInfo@Quest-Hotels.Com

Room Rates:
Deluxe Room - P5,700+++/night
Premier Deluxe - P6,300+++/night
Junior Suite - P9,700+++/night
Executive Suite - P11,200+++/night

*Rooms include breakfast for two, exclusive of government taxes and service charge.