Thursday, June 19, 2014

My sister’s budget-friendly dream island wedding

KISS- keep it super simple. I know that we, Filipinos, have the propensity to make important events in our lives grand and festive, and a wedding is definitely not an exception to that.  Pulling off a standard wedding ceremony usually takes months or even years of taxing preparation. Very often, a couple allots a big chunk of their savings for the wedding, but sometimes, long after the visitors left and the ceremonies ended, the newly-wed find themselves in dire financial needs.

While weddings are important as it marks the start a couple’s lifetime of togetherness, in my honest opinion, the preparedness for what comes after it should be a top priority.

But tell you what, being short on budget should not hinder you from pulling off a wonderful wedding ceremony. The key is to keep things low key and practical. Just like how my sister, Cielo, did.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Think Green: Puralytics SolarBag for backpackers

I support green innovations and it's cool to know that nowadays, more and more companies are turning  into eco-friendly products and services. As a travel enthusiast, I'm excited to see this trend penetrating the world of backpackers, hikers, and beach bummers.

In my travels around the Philippines, especially in remote areas, one of the challenges I experienced was the access to clean and potable water. Sometimes, I find myself in places where the only available water source are tap water and natural streams or rivers. Other than these, I rely heavily on bottled water which, sadly, eventually goes into the waste basket.

I got to try a product called Puralytics SolarBag in my recent trip to Batangas. It is a sunlight activated water purifier that uses a nanotechnology coated mesh to remove contaminants and microorganisms. I like the idea that it harnesses the power of the sun and does not use electricity or any chemicals to treat water.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Coming Home Now: A Story of Passion for Surfing and Love for Catanduanes

The news spread like wildfire over the internet last night. I was in total disbelief. Probably like many people, I couldn't grasp the idea that a man who seemed to be in a perfect physical form and someone living a life most of us could only dream of, could be gone too soon.

But your online profile confirmed the unthinkable. The ocean is now forever yours, Ezra.

One of Ezra's last posts (Photo Credit: Ezra Efondo)
I remember one of our conversations during the BookSail event in Palumbanes Island, you shared how you left the corporate world and chose to go back to our home province. I remember how your eyes lit while you talked about Jack Johnson, sunsets, and surfing in Puraran.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A peek at my 10 favorite memories in Masbate

A college friend introduced me to the sweet carmelado from Masbate, a local version of pastillas de leche which is made from carabao milk and sugar. This delicacy, wrapped in a thin white paper, got me at first bite, and I promised myself to horde as much carmelados I could afford if given the chance to visit Masbate someday.

Fast forward to a few years after, I visited Masbate’s capital, Masbate City, as I was completing my 80 before 30 challenge. Of course, carmelado was included in the order of business.

Masbate is a first-class province located in Bicol Region. It is composed of three major islands– Masbate, Ticao, Burias—and the capital is the City of Masbate. As an island province, it’s endowed with rich marine life in which many people in the coastal areas engage in fishing as their main source of income. Agriculture, such as livestock, raising cattle, and farming also contribute to the local coffer.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

GMA 7 Summer Break: Travel to Cagayan Province

Two years ago, I challenged myself to do my first solo trip to two provinces I haven't been to -- Cagayan and Kalinga. What I thought was just a short simple trip turned out to be one for the books.Recounting the exciting road trips, beautiful sunrises, and meeting kind people in these provinces left a mark that I will recall for a long time.

But in every trip, there's at least one episode that stands out among the smorgasbord of experiences. For my adventure in is Palaui Island in the town of Sta. Ana. 

Whenever I'm asked about my favorite destinations around the country, Palaui Island always makes it on the list. So when I got an email asking if I could share my Palaui Island experiences for GMA's Summer Break series, I didn't hesitate and jumped in immediately. 

The remote island of Palaui is definitely worth sharing. But somehow there's a part of me guilty of the possibility that if I keep promoting unspoiled beaches and islands like Palaui, what are the chances that these may also fall into the ugly trap of commercial tourism? I could only hope that stories like mine will create awareness and promote a sustainable eco-tourism that will benefit the local community without damaging the environment.

Here's the video courtesy of GMA 7. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Think Green: 10 Eco-friendly Travel Tips

Traveling the 80 provinces in the Philippines was by far one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. Not only did I earn so many amazing memories that are worth a lifetime, but more than that, it reinforced my belief that we have an incredibly beautiful country—a place we all have the duty to protect.

Recently, I’m glad to have caught up with my friend, Kidd, an environmental activist, one of the people I look up to when it comes to sustainable practices and mitigating environmental impact when traveling.  Over lunch, we’ve come up with some doable tips to guide you in when planning an eco-friendly trip.

Here are some ways to avoid or reduce the negative impact of tourism to the environment.

Explore within your area. Before eyeing the hottest destinations featured in your favorite travel shows or magazines, you might want to consider checking your neck of the woods. Interesting destinations could be lurking near where you live, it saves you a hefty plane fare and a soaring carbon footprint. For us living in Manila, a change of pace and scenery prompts us to go somewhere far and isolated, but you know what, Manila is not too bad to explore! In fact there’s quite a lot to see and do around here.  Spending time in Intramuros and Fort Santiago may be a great way to revisit our history. We also have museums (National Museum, Ayala Museum) where some of the best art works and historical artifacts are housed. If you want to commune with nature, the waterfalls in Rizal, the cool weather in Tagaytay and the beaches in Batangas are only few hours away. Exploring your own city and its neighboring areas is cheaper and an easier way to cut down on your carbon footprint.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hotel Review: Experience ibis Singapore Bencoolen

The lobby at ibis Bencoolen, Singapore 
When traveling abroad, I rely heavily on free WiFi access to stay connected to my family and friends back home. Purchasing a local SIM in the country I visit is not on top of my mind and is costly for a budget traveler like me.  

So when the staff at ibis Hotel Bencoolen told me and fellow blogger, Mica, that we'd be staying in a premium room with a free Handy smartphone that has unlimited data access, and with free local and international calls, I knew instantly that my 2-day stay in Singapore will be fun.

When I entered my well-lit room at the 11th floor, my eyes rested easily on the phone sitting adjacent to the comfy-looking bed. It didn't take long before I started dialing my mother's number to inform her that I've arrived safely and finally settled in my hotel.
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