Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Planning for your trip next year? Here's the list of Official Regular and Special Holidays in the Philippines in 2016 as per Proclamation No. 1105, s. 2015 signed by the President.  

The following regular holidays and special holidays for the year 2016 shall be observed in the Philippines:

Regular Holidays:

New Year’s Day
January (Friday)
Maundy Thursday
Good Friday
Araw ng Kagitingan
April (Saturday)
Labor Day
May (Sunday)
Independence Day
June (Sunday)
National Heroes Day
August (Last Monday of August)
Bonifacio Day
November (Wednesday)
Christmas Day
December (Sunday)
Rizal Day
December (Friday)

Special (Non-Working) Days

Chinese New Year
February (Monday)
EDSA People Power Revolution
Black Saturday
Ninoy Aquino Day
August (Sunday)
All Saints Day
November (Tuesday)
Additional special (non-working) days
January (Saturday)
October (Monday)
December (Saturday)
December (Saturday)

"The proclamations declaring national holidays for the observance of Eid’l Fitr and Eidul Adha shall hereafter be issued after the approximate dates of the Islamic holidays have been determined in accordance with the Islamic calendar (Hijra) or the lunar calendar, or upon Islamic astronomical calculations, whichever is possible or convenient. To this end, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) shall inform the Office of the President of the actual dates on which these holidays shall respectively fall."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

With eight finalists from almost 300 nominations, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Incorporated (RAFI) has recently announced this year's winners of the 6th RAFI Triennial Awards. The winners in both the Ramon Aboitiz Award for Exemplary Individual category and Eduardo Aboitiz Award for Outstanding Institution were from Mindanao. Anita Castillon, a retired teacher from Lake Sebu in South Cotabato bagged the award for the individual category while Kadtabanga Foundation For Peace and Development Advocates Inc. (KFPDAI) received the award for the group category.

Anita Castillon or Nanay Anit, 62 years old, is originally from Antique. After she became a widow at the age of 22, she focused on raising her only daughter and teaching. She left Antique in 1979 and started a new life in Lake Sebu. She started working with the Sta. Cruz Mission which eventually molded her into an educator, a mother tongue figure, a patriot, and a T'boli advocate. She established three Indigenous Learning Schools in two mountain barangays in Lake Sebu. She developed a system to sustain the feeding program within the schools. She also work hand-in-hand with the municipal nutrition office which resulted in the decrease of children's malnutrition.

Anita Castillon with Don Roberto Aboitiz

Nanay Anit emerged as the winner among the three finalists. The other two grand finalists were Carmelo Diola, the executive director of Dilab Foundation - a non profit, volunteer driven movement that aims to help the nation work with integrity through proper discernment and Lawrence Lemuel Fortun, District Representative of the 1st District of Agusan del Norte where he established Programang Pangkatawahan - an initiative that addresses the problem of unregistered births.

Ramon Aboitiz Award for Exemplary Individual Finalists with RAFI's Board of Trustees

As for KFPDAI, the members were previously combatants of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). They have put down their arms and worked closely with communities and the local government to help build peace in Mindanao. It was in year 2000 when they established KFDAI,. Their goal was to transform conflict-affected areas into Peace and Development Communities (PDCs), though the integrated approach community development. Former combatants were trained as Peace and Development Advocates (PDA's) to help promote peace and development in Mindanao.

Hadja Giobay Diacolano - KFPDAI's Executive Director

The other four grand finalists in the Eduardo Aboitiz Award for Outstanding Institution were Cantaan Centennial Multi-Purpose Cooperative (CCMPC), Sibog Katawhan Alang sa Paglambo (SIKAP), Western Samar Development Foundation, Inc. (WESADEF), and Balay Mindanaw Foundation Inc. (BMFI).

Finalists of Eduardo Aboitiz Award for Outstanding Institution with RAFI's Board of Trustees

The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Triennial Awards honors outstanding individuals and organizations who have gone out of their way to serve the community. For 18 years now, it serves as a venue to recognize some of our modern-day heroes in the Visayas and Mindanao region. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Philippines is now becoming one of the preferred destinations when it comes to traveling in Asia. It's actually not surprising as we have some of the best beaches in the world and Filipinos are basically among the most hospitable people on Earth. No wonder foreigners who visit The Philippines usually fall in love the first time they explore the country.

Nathan Allen in Albay

There is much more potential to encourage more visitors to our country, so, as part of my mission to further promote the Philippines to the world, I have interviewed several foreigners who fell in love with The Philippines. They will be featured on Escape Manila one by one and they  will tell us why they love the Philippines.

El Nido, Palawan

Our featured traveler for this week is already making a name in the blogging industry. He is a popular blogger who is passionate about traveling around The Philippines. He is Nathan Allen, the man behind the blog "I Dreamed Of This".

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Nathan Allen, I started a blog called “I Dreamed Of This” in 2013, and have been wandering, snapping photos, and writing ever since!

When did you first visit the Philippines?

I first visited the Philippines at the end of 2012

Why did you choose Philippines?

Years ago, I met a young Swiss couple who were almost finished with their 1 year trip around the world. When I asked them what their absolute favorite country was, they just smiled and said “The Philippines!” 

What do you love most about the Philippines?

Just like that young couple, I appreciate the Philippines because of the warmth and openness of the people…but the stunning beaches and rice terraces don’t hurt, either!

Your top 3 destinations in the Philippines and why?

Ifugao rice terraces, because of the incredible history/culture/scenery

Caramoan, Bicol,because it has a little bit of everything…limestone cliffs, beautiful beaches, snorkelling,  and Bicolano food, my favourite in the Philippines (so far)!

Masbatebecause it has some of the most underrated / unexplored beaches in the country. It also has the fascinating rodeo and cowboy culture, which I love. I found people there to be very friendly, and I always felt quite safe.

What's the least thing that you like about the Philippines, things that need improvement?

In the cities, I miss clean air and sidewalks the most. I don’t advise visiting tourists to spend too much time in the cities anyway, though. That’s not what they came for:)

Get to know more about Nathan in his video interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel. 

Nathan Allen Exploring the Beauty Of The Philippines! - Please...
VIDEO: What an AMAZING few years exploring the Philippines! Excellent work, Arvin David + team ANC!! #idreamedofthis #TFC ©ABS-CBN #Antique #Masbate #Siquijor #Albay #Banaue #Sagada #Moalboal #ElNido:) Please Share!
Posted by I Dreamed Of This on Monday, August 17, 2015

Just like other travelers, Nathan is obviously enjoying the country's beaches, rice terraces and the people's warm hospitality. 

Do you know any foreign traveler who also fell in love with the Philippines? Let me know their contact details so I can also feature them here. Please comment below or hit me an email at

Together, we can encourage more people to visit the country and explore the Philippines. We need a sustainable tourism industry in the country. Always observe responsible tourism!

***Photos were grabbed from Nathan Allen's blog with his permission.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

August is one of the most celebrated month in Davao City. It's the time where Davaoenos celebrate the city's bountiful harvest through the Kadayawan Festival. During this month, most establishments have their own promotions in line with the festival. As one of the leading hotels in Davao City, Park Inn by Radisson introduces its Kadayawan Promo called "Kadayawan Special Boodle Fight".

Starting on Saturday, August 15 until Monday, August 31, RBG Bar and Grill at Park Inn by Radisson will start offering their Kadayawan Special Boodle Fight meal to its diners. This special promotion will be offered daily for lunch and dinner.

Mr. Pavan Kakar, Park Inn's General Manager said "As part of the Kadayawan celebration, we are adding a twist to our Supersize family meal offering by making it a Boodle Fight style."

Park Inn By Radisson Davao's General Manager talks about the Supersize Boodle Fight

Mr. Kakar also added "Daily for two weeks, the sumptuous dishes created by our chefs are surely going to excite all Dabawenyos and visiting tourists alike."

Priced at only Php1,999.00 net good for 6-7 people, the Kadayawan Special Boodle Fight meal includes Grilled Vegetable Salad with Chevre Cheese, Kinilaw with Pomelo Salad, Tinolang Manok Soup, Grilled Squid, Fried Crablets, Grilled Tuna Belly, Chicken Inasal, Grilled Shrimp, Crispy Pork Belly, Lumpia Shanghai, Pancit, Special Davao Cake and Fresh Fruits. The meal is all served with Plain and Garlic Rice and a pitcher of drink.

Chicken Inasal
Fresh Kinilaw with Pomelo
Fried Crablets
Grilled Vegetable Salad with Chevre Cheese
Shrimp and Pork Barbecue
Special Davao Cake (Chocolate and Durian Flavor, yum!)

What's more interesting about this special promo is the hotel's partnership with FujiFilm's Instax PH. Every group who availed the Boodle Fight meal  will have one complimentary Instax photo printout as a souvenir. Another copy will be posted in the hotel's "Wall of Memories" which will become a raffle entry. Winners will receive gift certificate which will be announced on September 3, 2015.

Let the Boodle Fight begin! Visit RBG during Kadayawan season and experience Davao dining at its best.

You may book your reservation through 082-272-7600 or email them at

Davao Media, DOT XI and Park Inn Reps

Disclaimer: The author was invited during the press launch of the promo.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Located within the vicinity of Escario Central, a vibrant strip mall with a variety of interesting retailers, Escario Central Hotel is a 46-room hotel with modern-type accommodations. It is conveniently located within few distance from Zubuchon, 711 convenience store, Politics Cafe and the newly opened Family Mart which is just across the street from Escario Central.

The Rooms
There are two types of accommodation in Escario Central Hotel. You can either stay at their Orange Room with two queen size beds or the Red Room with Double beds. We're booked in a red room and I must say it's a good deal considering the price of the room. The mattress is soft and comfortable and the linens are clean. The lighting is good and the colors red and orange added a relaxing feel.

The Amenities
Escario Central Hotel has basic amenities. A complimentary bottled water is available in the room. Wifi access in the rooms, cable TV, and hot and cold shower is available. A small garden with chairs and tables is located near the reception area perfect for lazing around. 

The Breakfast
Breakfast at Escario Central Hotel is available for an additional fee. We availed of their plated breakfast served to us by Cafe Sarree. I had their chorizo rice and it was good.

As mentioned above, the hotel is conveniently located within reach from shopping malls, capitol and other tourist spots. A lot of jeepneys pass the area so commuting in not an issue. Restaurants, bars, and convenience stores are also within the vicinity so you'll not get bored when you stay at Escario Central Hotel.

Escario Central Hotel

Address: N. Escario Street Kamputhaw Cebu City, Philippines

Room Rates at Escario Central Hotel

Orange Room : PHP 1,800 net
Red Room : PHP 1,500 net

Disclaimer: Escario Central Hotel is one of our hotel sponsors during our weekend getaway in Cebu.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

St. Mark Hotel is a mid-range hotel in Cebu City. It is situated just few minutes from Mango Avenue, where the two major shopping malls are located, Ayala and SM. The hotel also provides easy access to guests who want to explore the city’s prime tourist attractions such as Plaza Independencia, Taoist Temple, Magellan’s Cross, The Sto. Nino Church and many other iconic landmarks.

It was already late when we arrived in the hotel. Our flight from Davao was delayed for over seven hours so we were already tired when we arrived in Cebu. The receptionist greeted us with a smile when we checked in. We were so excited to see our room and get some sleep before our very early morning call time for the canyoneering.

The Room
After checking in, we took the elevator and proceeded to our room at the 6th floor. The room looks really good, it feels more like a condotel than a hotel. It offers complimentary bottled water, a kettle with free tea and coffee, a safe, a fridge and a weighing scale which is very useful when you want to check the weight of your luggage or conveniently check your body weight too, haha.

The room is also equipped with a work table, a cable television, lampshades and an ipod dock. It is also decorated with a variety of wall paintings which made the room more pleasing to the eyes. The mattress was also very comfortable to sleep with.

The Breakfast

One of the most talked about part of staying at St. Mark Hotel is their buffet breakfast. We were excited actually, unfortunately due to our very hectic sched, we were not able to enjoy the breakfast at the hotel. We had to leave at 6AM otherwise we will not be able to fully enjoy the canyoneering experience.

Summary of Facilities and Amenities:
Complimentary Bottled Water
Free Wi-fi in all areas of the hotel
Free buffet breakfast for two adults
With parking spaces at ground floor
32-inch LCD TV
Ipod Dock
Electronic Safety Box
Complete Bathroom amenities with bedroom slippers
Hair Dryer
Iron and Ironing Board
Coffee and Tea Making Facility
Fridge / mini bar

St. Mark Hotel

Queens Road, Redemptorist Plaza, Camputhaw, Cebu City

Room Rates at St. Mark Hotel

Superior Room: Php 2,300 nett per room per night
Deluxe Room: Php 2,500 nett per room per night
Junior Suite: Php 3,500 nett per room per night
One Bedroom Penthouse Suite: Php 7,000 nett per room per night
Two Bedroom Penthouse Suite: Php 10,000 nett per room per night

Disclaimer: St. Mark Hotel is one of our hotel sponsors during our weekend getaway in Cebu.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cape San Agustin is a hidden attraction situated in the laid back town of Governor Generoso in Davao Oriental. It is located about 5-6 hours by private vehicle from Davao City.

It was early Saturday morning when we left Davao City going to Governor Generoso. We weren’t that prepared so we had to stop a number of times along the way to buy food and other stuff necessary for our camping trip. There is no accommodation near Cape San Agustin so the best way to spend a night is to pitch a tent at the beachfront.  

After several hours of traveling, we finally hit the end of the road. It was an absolutely amazing journey. We finally got to have a glimpse of the Cape San Agustin. We first explored the lighthouses and then the nearby areas. One of the three lighthouses is open to everyone while the second lighthouse is locked and you’ll have to borrow the key from the care taker.

While we were on top of the lighthouse, Governor Generoso’s Vice Mayor and ABS-CBN crew arrived to document a video about Cape San Agustin. Ate Ida of Choose Philippines was with them so she asked me to be interviewed. The interview was aired the following week in TV Patrol Southern Mindanao.

Let's explore GOVERNOR GENEROSO, Province of Davao Oriental! Daghang salamat Vice Mayor Katrina Joy Hao Orencia, Shama, Joey Gamao, the two Tontons, Orencia Family, Rb Dela Cruz, Hernel Tocmo, Philip Tumaroy, Maayong Buntag Mindanao ( Official ) and TV Patrol Southern Mindanao (Official)Glen Santillan Chamee Pecson Anthony Gaupo Miguel Trocio Alsiphi Lanos Quinones
Posted by Ida Nanette Damo on Tuesday, July 7, 2015

After exploring the lighthouses, we went to the beach area. We were so happy to see the pristine white sand along the coast. It wasn’t powdery but it was really good enough for us to get excited to dip in the clear water.

We continued walking along the coastline to visit the “Altar”, a rock formation, considered to be a major attraction within Cape San Agustin. It was phenomenal. It wasn’t that huge compared to the ones in Biri, Northern Samar but it was interesting enough for us to be amazed of how it was formed throughout the years. It’s definitely worth exploring.

Before the sun has set, we pitched our tent cooked dinner and started having fun. The weather was a bummer though. We were planning of star gazing but the clouds covered the stars so that was frustrating. It also rained a bit but we’re still lucky it wasn’t that strong otherwise we would have packed our stuff and move to the area near the lighthouse.

How to Go to Cape San Agustin

The best option is to either rent a van or bring a car from Davao City. Travel along Davao-Mati Road and turn right when you reach Manikling going to Governor Generoso passing the town of San Isidro, Davao Oriental. Just continue driving straight until you reach the end of the road. There’s no crossroads so you’ll not get lost for sure.

If you decide to commute, take a bus going to either Pundaguitan or Lavigan in Governor Generoso and then take a habal-habal from the bus terminal to Cape San Agustin. Lavigan is closer but buses going to Pundaguitan are more frequent. Check with Bachelor Express in Davao City Ecoland Terminal for the bus schedule as it is very limited.

All Photos are captured by Anthony Gaupo of The Guy With An Orange Backpack