24 June 2012

Baguio Adventure: Day 2

Getting ready before we hit the streets
It's day two of our Baguio trip. We woke up to a cold morning and prepared ourselves for do touristy stuff whole day.

With the Ifugao ladies at Mines View Park
The famous dog
Mines View Park. We took a jeepney with "Mines View Park" signboard. The jeepney terminal is located at the back of McDonalds--which is just across the street of La Brea Inn.

It was a weekend and the park was bustling with tourists. Small shops (selling bonsai, jams, knitted wraps and jackets) were everywhere. There are a couple of huge St. Bernards that costs Php 50 for 5 photo shots  (which I think is against the animal rights), horses with pink hair and Ifugao women who got costumes for rent (which costs around Php 10 per person) for unlimited Facebook-worthy photos.

At Good Shepherd Convent
Shepherd's staff
Good Shepherd Convent. They're famous for their strawberry jams. They also sell other preserves and treats. It's just a few steps away from Mines View Park.

Welcome to Happy Tummy
Happy Tummy. After visiting Mines View Park, our group debated if we're going to take a taxi to the Mansion or walk all the way from Good Shepherd Convent. We opted to walking and our sense of direction was gone the minute we took the first ten steps and can't find any signs of the Mansion House. It was already past noon when we tumbled along Happy Tummy (located near Wright Park). An unobtrusive place that looks like a garage but serves great Asian fusion and Thai food. Click here for my blog about Happy Tummy.

Passing Wright Park
The Mansion. After stuffing ourselves with Happy Tummy's delicious Fried Tilapia, we're ready for another long walk to the Mansion. So we walked a couple of distances more, passing tall trees that look like the scene straight out from the movie "Twilight" and finally reached the summer residence of the Philippine President.

Intimidating gates of the Mansion
We arrived at the Mansion with security guards telling us that we are not supposed to go beyond a certain point. It was pretty crowded since it's a weekend. The Mansion has manicured lawns with the symbolic yellow ribbon. A mirrored pond is the opposite the intimidating gates of the Mansion.

The president's vacation house
Camp John Hay and Philippine Military Academy. We gave up walking and finally hailed a taxi to bring us to Camp John Hay. The driver gave us a brief tour around the camp and pointed out rest houses of the celebrities and political figures. We decided not to stop and take photos as the walk back to the main road is very far.

Manila has tall buildings, Baguio City has tall trees
The famous military school
Planes, choppers, cannons and other war stuff at the PMA grounds
The driver dropped us off at the famous Philippine Military Academy. It was pretty funny that some people will actually chase a man in uniform for a photo. And the military students look great when they march all together.

Disturbing the studious PMA students
The academy was huge with great view of the Baguio's luscious flora. Like I mentioned from my previous blog, if one wanted to commit a secret suicide, the body will never be found. It will probably disintegrate by the time it hits the forest floor.

They all look the same!

We also visited their museum and found my PMA graduate cousin's class photo. 

Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral (a.k.a Baguio Cathedral). So we managed to find ourselves a jeepney ride all the way back to Lower Session Road. We freshen up at the inn and head straight to the Upper Session Road for the anticipated mass. And this is the first time I heard Our Father sung in a different dialect (aside from Cebuano and Tagalog).

At Baguio Cathedral after mass
SM Baguio. After the mass, we had dinner at the non-air-conditioned mall--SM Baguio. Prior to our trip, Cebu was shaken by the tsunami scare and strong earthquake. In Baguio, we can still sense the movement of the plates at the mall. It's probably normal for Baguioans. Talk about traumatic experience.

Photos by Chumz, Ana, Jo-an and yours truly

21 June 2012

GREENIN Philippines 2012: Green Run All Set

As the second run of the province-wide running and planting event, Run 2 Plant 4 GREENIN Philippines 2012, is fast approaching, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) through its Integrated Development unit and partners have already made the necessary preparations for June 30, including security and order.

During the event, 38 Talisay City Police officers, 20 barangay tanods, 30 barangay intelligence network officers, and three ambulances with a medical team will be mobilized. The Talisay City Police will take the lead in traffic and crowd control. Checkpoints will be put up inside Vista Grande.

Vehicles must have a parking pass issued by RAFI to be able to enter Vista Grande, otherwise they have to be parked at Gaisano Fiesta Mall, Tabunok, Talisay City.

Parking pass will be issued on June 27, Wednesday, at RAFI Main Office located in Lopez Jaena Street, Parian area, Cebu City.

For the central event, assembly time and area will be at 5 a.m. at the junction of Pacific Heights and Vista Grande. The run starts at 6 a.m. while the planting is at 7 a.m. While drinking stations will be provided, runners should bring their own water bottles for there will be no plastic cups to avoid litter.

This year, 7,500 participants, surpassing the 5,000 target last year, are expected to join the central event in Jaclupan, Talisay City.

Run 2 Plant 4 GREENIN Philippines targets to plant 220,000, doubling last year’s target of 100,000, native tree seedlings all over Cebu Province.

Registration has just closed last June 23.

Through Executive Order No. 3 issued by Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia last year, local government units of the 51 towns and component cities of Cebu are mandated to participate the event, thus institutionalizing the event in the entire province.

Run 2 Plant 4 GREENIN Philippines 2012 is organized in collaboration with the Cebu Provincial Government, Aboitiz Equity Venture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Talisay City local government unit and other LGUs in Cebu, and various government and private institutions.

Run 2 Plant 4 GREENIN Philippines, one of the components of GREENIN Philippines program, is a fun run and planting activity that provides a venue for every Filipino to contribute in rehabilitating and protecting our environment with the goal of bringing back the country's forest cover.

GREENIN Philippines Program, which stands for Generation REdemption and Expansion of Natural resources INitiatives in the Philippines Program, is one of the programs under RAFI's Integrated Development focus area. It aims to replicate best practices in environmental protection, conservation, and rehabilitation to more places in the country for a greener Philippines. RAFI's other focus areas are Micro-finance &Entrepreneurship, Culture & Heritage, and Education.

For more information about Run 2 Plant 4 GREENIN Philippines, please contact 418-7234 loc. 515 and look for Myryl Mendoza, or visit www.rafi.org.ph or www.facebook.com/rafi.org.ph

Bajaus improve living condition

With the guidance of RAFI's Bajau Integrated Area Development Project (BIAD-P), Bajaus are proactively taking part in the implementation of sanitation practices seeking to provide a better quality of living to their community in Sitio Pungtod, Alaska Mambaling, Cebu City.

The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) through its Bajau Integrated Area Development Project (BIAD-P) has taken steps in helping Bajaus create a clean and orderly community in Sitio Pungtod, Alaska Mambaling, Cebu City.

Ten cluster leaders among the Bajaus were tasked to lead the community in keeping their surroundings clean and safe. The rest of the community were also taught proper sanitation practices, like frequent washing of hands and daily bathing.

"We are now well-disciplined that we take a bath every day and keep our children always clean," Jovelyn Amad, a Bajau cluster leader, shared in Cebuano.

Another cluster leader, Lydia Jamare said that parents wake up early in the morning to prepare things and groom their children before sending them to school based on what they have learned in trainings on best parenting practices.

On Mondays, the Bajaus hold a general cleanup activity where they practice bayanihan. Each household was also encouraged to plant trees, which has become a contest in every cluster to motivate them to care and nurture their plants.

“We now know how to do waste segregation, and we have appreciated the importance of plants. This is why we plant and tend vegetable gardens in our backyards,” Amad added.

The Bajaus attested that through maintaining cleanliness, there have been very few cases of common ailments, such as cough and colds, in the community.

“There is really a difference now in the Badjau community in terms of cleanliness in their surroundings compared to when we first arrived in their locality,” Anthony Fuentes, BIAD-P project development officer, said.

BIAD-P is an initiative by RAFI through its Integrated Development unit, Presentation Sisters, and the University of San Carlos, which aims to make the Bajaus a self-sufficient, progressive, and self-reliant community with a sense of pride and belongingness.

BIAD-P is a program under the Integrated Development focus area of RAFI, helping communities overcome the vicious cycle of poverty. RAFI’s other focus areas include Micro-finance & Entrepreneurship, Culture & Heritage, Leadership & Citizenship, and Education.

For more information on BIAD-P, please contact Anthony Fuentes at 418-7234 loc. 515, or visit www.rafi.org.ph or www.facebook.com/rafi.org.ph.

12 June 2012

DUFROS goes to Baguio: Day 1

The most-awaited road trip for the gang
Breaking our fast in a strange table-less place makes the trip more authentic. Luckily, the Victory Liner bus terminal in Pasay offers a variety of breakfast options. I opted for the hot choco and a pan de sal baon for brekky. There are cup noodles available but I don't like to start the road trip with MSG-laden food. We missed the 6 am trip to Baguio, so we killed the time by eating.

We didn't get the non-stop bus with the lavatory. But most of the buses are air-conditioned and some have Wi-Fi access. Our bus is going to make two stops en route to Baguio.

Our stops were made in Tarlac. Tarlac is a depressing place. Everywhere you look you will see endless barren and green fields. It reminds me of Farmville and one of those B-rated horror movies.

Anyway, we thought it's gonna be a 6-hour trip (inclusive of 2 stops) but we were wrong. We crossed the Baguio border by 2:05 pm (making it a total of 7 hours) complete with fuzzy headaches and upset stomachs.

Chilly February weather at 2pm
The bus trudged up quietly, climbing its way carefully to the mountains. I can imagine the Ifugaos making their way to the other side of the mountain. It will probably take them a day or two. We pressed our pale faces on the windows and was impressed by the scenery. The sight was pretty awesome. Beyond the clouds and mountains, rests the City of Pines. Might as well call it the City of Clouds. The city is practically covered with wisps of white cotton atop the mountains. The trick is not to look down. If one wants to commit a secret suicide, rest assured your body will never be found.

When we get off the bus, we were greeted by a breath of cool air, as if we are facing the AC. Taxis in Baguio are not air-conditioned and are in FXs/Tamaraws version. Since most of the taxis will not take the six of us, a kind man with a van offered to take us to La Brea Inn in Session Road for a P100. It's just a 10-minute ride from the terminal to the inn.

Back then, tourists can still smell the scent of pines. Now, the tourists are greeted by the whisper of cold air. Nevertheless, I love the climate in the city. People wear jackets, hoodies and knitted caps. A good excuse to wear scarves, woolen beanies and one of those dorky yet cute Japanese-inspired character hats.

Budget-friendly inn
View from our room
The heart of the metropolis
La Brea Inn is located in Lower Session Road. Smacked right in the heart of the city. We have Burnham Park on our right, SM Baguio on our left and McDonalds across the street. We chose to eat at tried-and-tested places, even though we have Yellow Cab beneath our building. I have to thank 7-eleven for saving my stomach for a cup of hot cocoa in the mornings.

During our first day in Baguio, we immediately head to Burnham Park for a quick stroll and start enjoying our vacay, the express way.

Goofing around Burnham Park
Lots of students are hanging out at the park
Afternoon boat ride at the murky lagoon

05 June 2012

Mövenpick Cebu gets a facelift worth over P200 Million

Mövenpick Cebu is getting a new look.
Mövenpick Resort & Spa Cebu is to be completely transformed by a lavish renovation that will include exciting new facilities that have never been seen in the Philippines before.

The intensive work will start on July 15 and continue for five months. During that period the hotel will temporarily suspend operations before re-opening on December 15.

“During any hotel renovation work our first consideration is to our guests,” said the hotel’s general manager Knuth Kiefer.

“In this case the scale of the renovation is so ambitious and so transformational that we wanted to focus on creating the best possible environment for work to be completed to our high standards. As a result we decided to temporarily suspend operations for five months.”

The general manager said the renovation will revitalise every aspect of the resort transforming guest rooms, the swimming pool, external areas and all restaurants and lounges. Additionally there will be exciting new features that have never been seen before in the Philippines before, such as an innovative new entertainment and event facility.

“This is not a conventional refurbishment but rather a completely fresh new approach to the overall guest experience,” said Kiefer. “We are very excited by the new features we have planned and believe they will offer guests wonderful reasons to visit Cebu again and again.”

The resort opened in 2005 and initially a ‘soft’ refurbishment had been planned to update the property – renovating just specific areas of the building – but it was decided the opportunity to create something unique and innovative was too good to miss.

“When the renovation work is complete we believe that the hotel will be an incredible asset not just to Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, but also an asset to Cebu,” said Kiefer.

03 June 2012

Bunzie's Cove: Cebu's piece of Caribbean

Piece of paradise

Cebu’s best beaches are usually found in the southern and northern parts of Cebu. Summer is almost over and for busy yuppies, a quick trip to either ends of Cebu proved to be de-stressing.

Interesting rock formation

Parking lot. It's more fun in the Philippines.

Tucked in the North-eastern Cebu, Bunzie’s Cove is one of the Cebu’s best secret. Fondly known as “Caribbean Cove of Cebu” by well-travelled locals and expatriates alike, Bunzie’s Cove is a perfect hideaway with a private cove owned by a Singapore-based designer Annie Chen.

Bunzie's Cove

Located in Tabogon, Bunzie’s Cove is a 30-minute drive from the town of Sogod, passing Borbon along the way. The cove boasts of panoramic views of Tabogon Bay and Camotes Sea and a great sunset view spot. It has a pebbly shoreline, fringed with rocky edges which became a favorite to thrill seekers for cliff-diving stunts. Boat rides are also available upon request. Be sure to rent your boat before you jump off the cliff for a ride back to the shore. Don’t be fooled by the distance and depth.

Greek-inspired verandah

The pool

Leap of faith

Row your own boat

Guests have the option to go a Day Use or an overnight.  Day-trippers can enjoy the Grecian verandah with relaxing lounge chairs, use of dirty kitchen, pebbly beach, swimming pool and comfort room for Php 100 per person. Corkage fee is charged at Php 500 for everything you’ve packed. Just make sure you brought everything you need to cook (including gas, matches, coal and food).

Manong the boatman

For weekenders, the resort has rooms that offer great ocean views. The garden cottage is a tourist favorite. It sits atop a cliff that with suspended terrace overlooking the varying aquamarine hues.

Summer can be spelled with a pool, great beach, sprawling patio with breathtaking views and friends.