Hibiscus Garden Inn: Value for Money Family Accomodations in Palawan

February 28, 2011


Hibiscus Garden Inn: Value for Money Family Accommodations in Palawan
  
The last time our family went to Puerto Princesa, we stayed at Casa Linda Inn. It is by far the cheapest accomodations we have stayed in. The room was very cheap and basic but we had a clean room with private toilet and bath. For a big family like us, the cheap accommodations provided by Casa Linda Inn made our Puerto Princesa trip possible. See my review on  Casa Linda Inn here.

On the other hand, if I had more funds then and the kids are older, I would choose Hibiscus Garden Inn. Maximum capacity for Hibiscus Garden Inn rooms is 3 persons. But I can request to have 2 adjacent rooms so a family of 6 like ours can be near each other. A classic room costs P1800 per night good for 2 persons, and the t
he extra person rate is P500 per person. So if three persons will occupy a room, the cost will be P2300 per room per night, or in our case, it will be P4600 per room per night for a family of 6. Not bad since a 3-star hotel in Manila good for 2 people cost around that much.


In my discovery of this place, I relied heavily on the following reviews, which also contained traveler's photos. As I've mentioned in previous posts, traveler's photos more accurately show the true condition of the place. Here is the link that may help you decide to book this place: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g294257-d1163069-Reviews-Hibiscus_Garden_Hotel-Puerto_Princesa_Palawan.html

What kids will like about this place
  • It has wifi. 
  • It has cable tv in the rooms.
What adults will like about this place

  • It's near the airport. 
  • It's near public transportation, like the tricycles, because it's located on the main road
  • It's also near restaurants and the capitol.

Contact Information:
Hibiscus Garden Inn website 
Hibiscus Garden Inn email address 


Location:

Check out the location of Hibiscus Garden Inn in relation to the airport and to Casa Linda Inn. Hibiscus Garden Inn is in the lower right portion of the map and Casa Linda Inn is in the upper left portion of the map.

BANAUE: Best time to visit the Banaue Rice Terraces

February 25, 2011


BANAUE: Best time to Visit the Banaue Rice Terraces

Lonely Planet Philippines (shown here) concludes that the best viewing time is one to two months before harvest because it is at its greenest.

Lonely Planet Philippines

UPDATE AS OF APRIL 2014!!!

We visited the Banaue Rice Terraces both in Banaue Viewpoint and Batad in April 2014. We were informed by the locals that due to climate change, they moved planting season from February/March to April to avoid the typhoons. I am therefore updating my old post shown below:

I am also sharing with you other information I got from the locals about current practices: 
  • The rice terraces in Banaue, both in Barangay Viewpoint and Barangay Batad, plant the Tinawon variety of rice. Tinawon means once a year. 
  • Tinawon takes 6 months to grow. They only plant tinawon once a year.
  • They tried planting other varieties but it didn't flourish so they returned to Tinawon.
  • The Tinawon is not commercially available because they only produce enough for their personal consumption.
  • If you wish to taste Tinawon, they will sell you their personal stock still in stalks and will pound the grains and cook it for you.
  • Since they changed planting season to April, harvest time will be in October. Based on Lonely Planet's recommendation, the best time to see it all green will be in August. But August weather in the Philippines is unpredictable so it's important to take it into consideration.


When is the best time to view the Ifugao rice terraces?
With the new planting season, I am color coding  the months in the same way as the old post to indicate what you most probably will see when you arrive at the Ifugao Rice Terraces on your chosen month. You get to decide when, in your opinion, is the best viewing time for this famous site.

January to March is not the best time to view the rice terraces, not unless you want to see it in its barren look. Some people appreciate the rice terraces and enjoy them as well during this time. 
April to May is planting season. It's slightly green but not lush. However, this is summer time in the Philippines so it's a nice time to visit because the weather is fairly predictable and there is less chance of rain. 
June to July is a good time to see green rice terraces.
August to September is the best time to see the rice terraces at its greenest. 
October to November is the best time to see the rice terraces in its golden color.
December is not the best time to view the rice terraces, not unless you want to see it in its barren look. Some people appreciate the rice terraces and enjoy them as well during this time because of the cold weather. 
_____________________________________________________________________________________
BELOW IS MY OLD POST FOR REFERENCE:
  • Banaue plants rice only once a year. Harvest time is in August. So best viewing time is June and July.
  • Batad (a few kilometers from Banaue) plants rice twice a year. Harvest time is June and December. So the best viewing time is April to May and October to November.
When is the best time to view the Ifugao rice terraces?
I have color-coded the months to indicate what you most probably will see when you arrive at the Ifugao Rice Terraces on your chosen month. You get to decide when, in your opinion, is the best viewing time for this famous site.


January to March is not the best time to view the rice terraces, not unless you want to see it in its barren look. Some people appreciate the rice terraces and enjoy them as well during this time. 
April to May is the best time to see the Batad rice terraces at its greenest.  
June to July is the best time to see the Banaue rice terraces at its greenest. 
June is harvest time at Batad so you can see it in its golden color. 
August is harvest time in Banaue. 
September is planting season in Batad. 
October to November is the best time to see the Batad rice terraces at its greenest.  
December is harvest time in Batad



To help you decide when to view the Rice Terraces of the Cordilleras, photos below (not mine) will show you what to expect at any time of the year.

January
Photo courtesy of ironwulf.net

February
Banaue Rice Terraces by Sahlee C. Camposano
Photo courtesy of Sahlee Camposano


March 
The Banaue Rice Terraces
Photo courtesy of Jen Salegumba

April
Banaue Rice Terraces Viewpoint by Marcos Chymera
Photo courtesy of Marcos Chymera


May
Photo courtesy of stlrams, tripadvisor forum member

June
Banaue Rice Terraces
Photo courtesy of colatwist


July
batad, banaue, ifugao
Photo courtesy of ferdibee

August
Photo courtesy of Bobby Wong


25th Anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution: Schedule of Events

February 23, 2011


Schedule of Events
25th Anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution


February 17, 2011
Exhibit of the Inaugural 
6:00 P.M., SM The Block
This exhibit showcases the coffee table book that documents the events from President Cory Aquino’s funeral to the Aquino campaign up to the inauguration of Benigno S. Aquino III as President.

February 21, 2011
NoyNoy: Triumph of a People’s Campaign  
5:00 P.M., Powerbooks, Greenbelt 4
A book written by Ambassador Wilfrido Villacorta will be launched. The book chronicles the success of the Aquino campaign in capturing the Presidency.

Exhibit of the Revolution Revisited by Kim Komenich 
6:00 P.M., Ayala Museum
An event co-sponsored by the Ayala Museum, this exhibit features 60 photographs taken by Kim Komenich during his assignment in the Philippines at the time of the People Power Revolution. Fourteen of these photos were given the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography.


February 21 to 27, 2011
Sonny Camarillo Exhibit
Thirty iconic pictures taken by Sonny  Camarillo during the EDSA People Power Revolution will be displayed along EDSA and White Plains Avenue. The pictures tell the story of the revolution as seen through a photographer’s lens.  

February 22, 2011
Tree Planting Activity 
9:00 A.M. to 12:00 NN, Camarines Sur
The Local Government of Camarines Sur, led by Governor Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr., has organized a tree planting activity wherein 50,000 trees will be planted on governmentacquired land. In an attempt to feature the value of  Pagkakaisa, this area, now called the “Community of Hope”, serves as a home for rebel returnees and military families.

Inauguration of the AFP Museum and Blood Letting 
2:00 P.M., AFP Grounds, Camp Aguinaldo
The room where Former President Fidel V. Ramos and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s announced their withdrawal of support has been converted to a museum. This event will feature the inauguration of this historic place. A blood letting will simultaneously be conducted in the AFP grounds as well.

PEOPLE-POWERED MARKETS: Sa Bayang Umaasenso, Sama-Sama Tayo 
4:00 P.M., NBC Tent, Bonifacio Global City
The Ninoy and Cory Foundation in coordination with the Makati Business Club organized this event in order to guide and educate Filipinos on how people and private companies can use the market to address social problems in the country.
Yes Pinoy Symposium – Trainer’s Training (until the 22nd) 
Venue: Kabayan Hotel, Cubao, Time: 10:00 A.M. 
Participants will be trained in facilitating the EDSA Babies Speak Symposiums so they will be able to cascade the symposium in their respective regions.

February 23, 2011
Pilipinas Got Bukas 
7:00 – 8:30 A.M., Rizal High School, Pasig
In order to engage the youth towards volunteerism, the YesPinoy Foundation organized this event that will showcase a human mosaic composed of 2,500 students. A passing of the torch by the EDSA Veterans to the EDSA Babies will also take place.

EDSA Babies Expo 
9:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., SM North Sky Dome
Exhibitors will provide avenues by which EDSA Babies can join in nation building through volunteer and other socio-civic programs. Exhibitors will be composed of student organizations and NGOs.

Program and Awarding: Best Entries in Bright Ideas and Bold Initiatives for a Better Future 
3:30 P.M. to 5:00 P.M., SM North Sky Dome
Winning projects and entries for the Bright Ideas and Bold Initiatives for a Better Future program will be given.

EDSA Babies… Congrats Mga Sikat! 
7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M., SM North Sky Dome
This is a pre-graduation treat  to high school and college achievers. Various artists will perform for the students and the winners of the Bright Ideas and Bold Initiatives for a Better Future program.

EDSA 1 Clips Film showing in schools nationwide
Documentaries and films about the revolution will be shown in various schools across the country.

40-Hour Vigil in 25 Churches 
8:00 P.M.
A 40-hour vigil will be held starting on the 23rdup to the 25th will be held in 25 churches across the country. 

Freedom Tour will begin (will run until the 25th) 
8:00 – 9:30 AM, 9:30 – 11:00 AM and 5:00 – 6:30 PM
This is a tour that will tell the story of the revolution. The tour will cover the following areas: La Salle Greenhills, the EDSA Shrine, the People Power Monument, and Club Filipino.

February 24, 2011
Eucharistic Celebration 
5:30 P.M., EDSA Shrine
A mass will be celebrated at the EDSA Shrine on the eve of the 25th Anniversary of the success of the revolution.


Freedom Tour will continue 
8:00 – 9:30 AM, 9:30 – 11:00 AM and 5:00 – 6:30 PM
This is a tour that will tell the story of the revolution. The tour will cover the following areas: La Salle Greenhills, the EDSA Shrine, the People Power Monument, and Club Filipino.

February 25, 2011
Honors and Flag Raising Ceremony 
7:30 A.M., People Power Monument
A flag raising ceremony at the People Power Monument will kick off the celebration. An Ecumenical Prayer will also be held after the ceremony.

Unveiling of the Cardinal Sin Statue and Flower Offering at the Ninoy and Cory Statues 
9:30 A.M., Rizal Park
This event is spearheaded by Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.  In attendance will be residents of Manila, the religious including twenty-five bishops and Catholic school students.  After the unveiling, flowers will be offered at the Ninoy and Cory statues. 

Job Fair 
7:30 A.M. – 3:00 P.M, POEA Building
The POEA  will hold a job fair featuring thirty licensed employment agencies who have committed to offer a total of 25,000 job openings.   This job fair is open to the public and thousands of job seekers are expected to come.

EDSA Strip 
7:00 A.M. to 12:00 midnight
The north bound lane of EDSA will be transformed into a festive strip where people who will attend the celebrations will be able to see the actual tanks used by soldiers during the revolution. People will also be able to register and make commitments for the country at Tatak Edsa Registration tents. Food will be available at P25 at food stalls put up by the Philippine Franchise Association.

Medical-Dental Mission
9:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M., Camp Aguinaldo Gate
A medical and dental mission will be held throughout the day at the Camp Aguinaldo Gate in front of EDSA.

Unveiling of Marker 
11:00 A.M., POEA Building
A historical marker will  be  unveiled in the exact location where former President Cory Aquino delivered a speech during the EDSA People Power Revolution. 

Boodle Lunch 
12:00 Noon, EDSA
There will be a boodle lunch along EDSA for 2,500 people including CEOs, LGU representatives, student leaders, and others. This activity seeks to rekindle the spirit of sharing that transpired during the EDSA People Power Revolution. 

Salubungan Program 
3:45 P.M., EDSA
This will reenact the “Salubungan” that happened 25 years ago when then General Ramos and Defense Minister  Juan Ponce Enrile joined forces against the dictator. The forces will converge at the People Power Monument.

Live Musical Variety Show 
8:00 P.M., White Plains Avenue
A live concert will be held that will showcase  various Filipino artists from the Kapuso,Kapamilya, and Kapatid networks. The variety show is divided into five (5) suites: “Simulain, People Power History 101,” “Ang Diwa, the Spirit of EDSA People Power,” “Mga Simbolo, People Power Lives On,” “Mga Bayani, the Heroes of Today,” and “People Power Ngayon, Nation Building Today.”   The PANA Ad campaign will also be launched at the concert.  A fireworks display will follow the concert.

LGU Participation
LGUs across the country will hold events that will include medical missions, tree planting, monitoring of smoke belchers, and other projects to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the EDSA Revolution. 


Freedom Tour will continue (VIP tour at 1:00 PM)

8:00 – 9:30 AM, 9:30 – 11:00 AM and 5:00 – 6:30 PM
This is a tour that will tell the story of the revolution. The tour will cover the following areas: La Salle Greenhills, the EDSA Shrine, the People Power Monument, and Club Filipino.

February 26, 2011
Unveiling of the Kalayaan Marker 
10:30 A.M., Kalayaan Hall, MalacaƱang
During the Marcos regime, the hall was called Maharlika Hall. When former President Cory Aquino assumed office, it was renamed Kalayaan Hall. A marker will be unveiled at the hall to commemorate this event.

People Power Awards 
11:00 A.M., Heroes Hall, MalacaƱang
This event is in recognition of the personalities who played significant roles during the EDSA People Power Revolution.  The awardees are: (Living) Fr. Reuter, Nap Rama and William Esposo, and (Posthumous) Don Chino Roces, Rep. Stephen Solarz, and Teodoro Benigno.  Lunch will be served and the film entitled “The World Remembers EDSA” will be shown.  Music will be provided by Mr. Ryan Cayabyab.

February 27, 2011
People Power Run
The route of the run will be from the People Power Monument to Ortigas, Greenmeadows, and C5. Simultaneous runs will be held in Bicol, Cebu, Zamboanga, Dipolog and Angeles City.

YesPinoy Foundation Relaunch 
7:00 P.M., NBC Tent, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
The event will be attended by members of the YesPinoy Foundation and various artists.  During the Relaunch, the EDSA Babies shall articulate their commitment to carry on the Spirit of EDSA – the spirit volunteerism.  

How to go to Batanes on a Budget

February 22, 2011


How to go to Batanes on a Budget

TRANSPORTATION
The single biggest travel expense for this destination is the transportation cost. In other destinations around the Philippines, there are other transportation options to choose from, like the ferry or a long road trip. The cheaper form of transportations is usually the more inconvenient. For Batanes, this is not the case. Even the more inconvenient means of transportation to Batanes may end up more expensive than simply riding the plane. The best way to go to Batanes is still by airplane from Manila. 

The option of riding the ferry from Cagayan or Ilocos is not very reliable. Also, the ride takes almost the whole day. So if your time to visit Batanes is limited, this is not an option for you. 

Taking a 12-hour road trip from Ilocos or a province near Batanes then taking a plane ride to Batanes is almost as expensive as taking the Southeast Asian Airlines flight from Manila. See my article on Batanes Airlines to compare the cost of taking SEAIR from Manila instead.

ACCOMMODATIONS
Book at Batanes Resort. Batanes resort remains is an inexpensive resort with all the basic amenities you need for your stay. See my article on Batanes resort.

SIGHTSEEING TOUR
If you're part of a big group, hire a van and a guide for your tour. The cost of the van and guide can be divided among the members of your group. The more members that you have in your group, the less cost per head. 

If you're a single traveler or a couple, and you know how to ride a motorcyle, you can do a motorcycle tour. If not, you can hire a tricyle for the day to help you explore the island. You can opt to hire a guide to explain things to you. But the cost of the guide is in addition to the cost of renting a motorcycle or hiring a tricycle for the day. 

You can negotiate and customize your tour to suit your budget. The tour guides are very accomodating. 

See the rates given by our tour guide to give you an idea where you can negotiate.


MEALS
If you stay at Batanes resort, the meals served there are inexpensive so you do not have to look far for meals. But for a taste of Ivatan cusine, be sure to try Pension Ivatan. See my article on Pension Ivatan.

My tips:
If you want to cut cost on your Batanes trip, focus on saving on airline cost by means of: 

1. Traveling during off-season in the Philippines.
Off-season travel in the Philippines is generally from June-December 15, January 3 -March 15, except during:
a. non-working holidays that fall on a Friday or Monday.
b. the Christmas season in the Philippiens that last from December 16-January 1.
c. The Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.
d. The week and weekend of the Chinese New Year
e.  The weekend nearest Valentine's Day
2. Watch out for regular fare sales during the airlines' anniversary, the annual Philippine Travel Tour Expo in February and the Philippine Travel Mart in September.

The greatest discount I have seen so far during these sales is 50% off the regular fare. So it's really worth watching out for these sales. In our case, since I travel with kids who go to school, we usually have no choice but to travel during peak season.

Check out my article on when to catch SEAIR promo flights to Batanes.

Promo Fares at the 18th Philippine Travel Tour Expo 2011

February 18, 2011


Promo Fares 

at the 

18th Philippine Travel Tour Expo 2011



Batanes & Boracay Treats from SEAIR


BUY 1 TAKE 1 ROUNDTRIP TICKET for MANILA–BASCO-MANILA per adult / child
PHP16,160
Seat / Flight Restrictio 
For every purchase of roundtrip ticket to BATANES, the buyer is entitled to another roundtrip ticket for
FREE. (
  • LIMITED SEATS , ALL FLIGHTS

Note: Passengers must be traveling together. In the event that one passenger will rebook the flight, bothpassengers will be subjected for fare difference and other charges.

  • RESTRICTIONS: 

o SELLING PERIOD: FEBRUARY 18-20, 2010
(SEAIR BOOTH ONLY)
o TRAVEL PERIOD: MARCH 01 – OCTOBER 15, 2011 
(NOT VALID DURING EMBARGO)
o TICKET VALIDITY: ONE MONTH FROM THE FIRST DATE OF TRAVEL
 
ONE WAY TICKET for MANILA–CATICLAN v.v. per adult / child
PHP1,616
o SELLING PERIOD: FEBRUARY 18-20, 2010
(SEAIR BOOTH ONLY)
o TRAVEL PERIOD: MARCH 01 – OCTOBER 15, 2011
(NOT VALID DURING EMBARGO)
o TICKET VALIDITY: ONE MONTH FROM THE FIRST DATE OF TRAVEL

RESTRICTIONS APPLICABLE ON BOTH SALE FARES:
o INCLUSIVE of Airline taxes (YQ, INS, ASF) and VAT
o NON – COMMISSIONABLE 
o BOOK-AND-BUY BASIS ONLY 
o STRICTLY NON-REFUNDABLE (NON-REF), NON-TRANSFERABLE (NON-TRNSFR), NONREROUTABLE (NON-RROUTE) and NON-UPGRADABLE (NON-UPGRD).
o REBOOKABLE subject to rebooking fee of PHP 560 / way, No show of Php 560 (if applicable) and fare difference (if any)
o Valid for all MARKETS 
o CHILD, INFANT, STUDENT AND SENIOR CITIZEN passengers have no special rate based on theabove and will be given their corresponding discount based on the NORMAL fare. 
o Other Reservation and Ticketing issues that may arise and not covered by the guidelines in this bulletin are understood to follow company protocol and  procedure. 
ACCEPTED FORMS OF PAYMENT:o CASH or CREDIT CARD ONSITE

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Quick Guide to Using the Phone in the Philippines



Quick Guide to Using the Phone in the Philippines


The Philippines is known as the "Texting Capital of the World". A recent US study has shown this to be true. So, the best way to communicate with people in the Philippines is thru their cellphones, and by texting them. Texting refers to text messaging, which is a brief written message sent from your cellphone.

I discovered that even in the remote parts of the Philippines and in the poorest areas, people have cellphones. This means that if you wish to communicate with your tour guides, airport transfers (which may be a regular taxi or a tricycle transfers), tricycle tours, motorbike rentals, etc., the most reliable way to to do so is through a cellphone. Almost everyone in the Philippines has cellphones.

IF YOU ARE IN THE PHILIPPINES...
... And wish to communicate with people in the Philippines, your cheapest option will be to buy a cellphone in the Philippines, and a prepaid SIM.
 

1. Estimated cost: 

phone:1000 pesos (cheapest brand new Nokia phone available is the Nokia 1208 available at Shopwise stores). Check out this website for price list.
sim card: 30-60 pesos 
call charge: around 6.50-7.50 pesos per minute; text charge: P1.00 per minute if you are on the same network.

2. Where to get it:

a. phone: at any SM department store, Shopwise grocery, Smart wireless center (see smart.com.ph), Globe wireless center (see globe.com.ph)
b. sim card and load: at groceries and department stores. Not hard to find because stalls where you can buy sim card and load are practically everywhere. Just ask any local so they can refer you to the nearest shop.

... And wish to communicate with people in other countries, you have the following options (which depends on how heavy your use will be):

1. Use a magic jack if you wish to communicate with someone in the US or Canada. 


See magicjack.com. This is what we use to communicate with relatives in the States. But this option will limit your mobility. You need a laptop, an internet connection and a standard phone with cord. Calls from the Philippines to the US are free with magic jack. Your cost for this option will be from the purchase of magic jack and the rate of internet use.

2. Use a PLDT budget card. You need a PLDT landline phone to use this card. Cost is 1.50 pesos per minute for calls to the US. Seehttp://www.pldt.com.ph/products/consumers/prepaidcards/Pages/BudgetCard.aspx

3. Use the prepaid cellphone you purchased in the Philippines. Call rate is around US$.40 per minute.



My tip:
If you're buying a cellphone and don't know which SIM card of a telecom company to buy, inquire from people residing at your proposed destination in the Philippines, which telecom company has the strongest signal in their area. The major wireless telecom companies are Smart and Globe . I personally discovered that Smart has the widest coverage. They even have a signal all throughout the remote island of Batanes, while Globe has only intermittent signals. But then, this is on a case-to-case basis. You have to ask people residing in your destination, which has the best signal.

Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAIR) Flies to Vigan

February 16, 2011

Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAIR) Flies to Vigan!

Starting February 25, 2011, SEAIR will fly direct from Manila-Vigan. This is great news since Vigan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And before the launching of this route by SEAIR, the only way to access it directly from Manila is by two ways:
(1) by taking a 9-12 hour long road trip; or 
(2) by taking a Philippine Airlines or Cebu Pacific flight to Laoag and then taking a 1 1/2- 2 1/2 hour land trip from Laoag to Vigan. 
Now, there is a third option. With the launching of this route by SEAIR, visitors who want to visit Vigan for the weekend and maximize their time can fly direct from Manila to Vigan via SEAIR. Flight time is only 1 hour, and with SEAIR's schedule, you have two (2) full days already to explore Vigan. 

Right now the flights offered are as follows:

Manila-Vigan: 
Fri, Sun: 230pm departure from Manila-330pm arrival in Vigan
Vigan to Manila: 
Fri, Sun: 350pm departure from Vigan-450pm arrival in Manila
Check out what UNESCO world heritage sites you can see in Vigan here.

NOTE on airfares:
Manila to Vigan (roundtrip) via SEAIR is around 5000 pesos ++
Manila to Laoag (roundtrip) via Philippine Airlines is around 4000 pesos ++
Manila to Laoag (roundtrip) via Cebu Pacific is around 2500 pesos ++.

At least with the opening of the new route, foreign visitors with limited time in the Philippines can have Vigan as an option. And for domestic travelers, the schedule allows us to have Vigan as a weekend vacation option.

Below is a sample booking of the Manila to Vigan flight