Manila International Airport Lounge: The Sampaguita Lounge (NAIA Terminal 1)

July 26, 2012

Manila International Airport Lounge: 
The Sampaguita Lounge (NAIA Terminal 1)

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 is the second oldest international airport terminal in Manila. It was built in 1978 and has recently earned very bad reviews because it is old and has not been renovated for quite some time. Most international flights still depart and land on this airport terminal. 

Despite the dated facilities of this terminal, one of the perks for us when using this terminal is the free use of the  airport lounge courtesy of our credit cards. The credit card holder has free use of the MIASCOR lounge and can bring a companion for free. However, on the day of our flight, the MIASCOR lounge was full so we were redirected to the Sampaguita lounge instead.

The Sampaguita Lounge used to be the Mabuhay Lounge, which is the business class lounge of Philippine Airlines. Philippine Airlines transferred to Terminal 2 and no longer uses this lounge. It's being managed by Microasia Catering. So it's now open to the public for a fee.

This is one of the pay lounges of the NAIA Terminal 1. Using this lounge can help the economy class traveler endure the poor facilities of this terminal while waiting for their flights to depart.

Amenities of the Sampaguita Lounge

Spacious lounge

Free wifi

Photo: Enjoy our FREE WiFi at the Sampaguita Lounge.

Unlimited Food and Drinks

They have chicken arroz caldo/congee, assorted bread, pastries, 
sandwiches, coffee, softdrinks, water, instant noodles soup.

Tariff Rates/Entrance Fees 
450 pesos or $10 for adults
370 pesos for kids 5 years old and below
  • All you have to do to be able to use this lounge is to go to the Sampaguita Lounge on the day of your flight, enter the lounge and approach the counter near the buffet spread, and pay the tariff rates.
You see the counter above beside the buffet spread?
That's where you pay the entrance fees.

Where it is located
At NAIA terminal 1. After immigration, go straight through the duty free shops, then turn right going towards the direction of Gates 9 and 15. Map below shows that the elevator going to the Sampaguita lounge is before Gate 15. The elevator goes up to the next level where you will find the Sampaguita Lounge.
Photo courtesy of Sampaguita Lounge facebook page

Contact information

Telephone No: +6328313141
Hours of operation: Mon - Sun: 4:00 am -11:30 pm

Word of Warning: The toilets are passable and old and needs to be upgraded. But it's better than the airport toilets outside the lounge but not great.

If you have a choice between using the MIASCOR lounge and the Sampaguita Lounge, choose the MIASCOR lounge. The MIASCOR lounge, although much smaller, has great facilities and a hotel-like ambience.

The view from the window of the Sampaguita Lounge

Half-Day Cultural Heritage Tour of Batanes (First Day)

July 19, 2012

Half-Day Cultural Heritage Tour of Batanes
(First Day)

If you stayed at Fundacion Pacita several years ago like we did, the package included a complimentary half-day cultural heritage tour of Batanes. The itinerary below is the complimentary tour we took at Fundacion Pacita in March 2010. We arrived in Batanes in the morning and took this tour in the afternoon. 

Since October 31, 2011, Fundacion Pacita phased out its complimentary tours. However, I still think this itinerary will be useful to those who wish to take half-day tours, combining a slow, relaxing morning with some sightseeing in the afternoon. The guide we used for this tour is Roger Doplito.

But take note: this half-day tour does not include all the must see sights on Batan Island, like Marlborough Hills. I still recommend that you take another half-day tour which includes Marlborough Hills. This tour is best taken in the afternoon of your arrival as a nice introduction to the Batanes you will see in the next few days. We also took another tour in the afternoon of the second day of our trip. More of that in a subsequent post.

Advantage of taking half-day afternoon tours
You don't need to wake up early and rush into sightseeing.

Disadvantage of taking half-day afternoon tours
You pay the guide twice instead of just once for the whole day tour. The van rental depends on the number of hours you use it. But the guide is paid on a per day basis. Everything however is negotiable. So perhaps you can negotiate a discounted rate with your guide, especially when you arrive during low season.

What is included in the complimentary half-day cultural heritage tour of Fundacion Pacita
The half-day tour is conducted the day of your arrival. It lasts from 2pm-6pm. The tour includes the ff:

1st stop: Radar Tukon
Our guide, Roger Doplito, explaining how this device records 
how sunny it is during different parts of the day. When the 
sun is out, the heat of the sun burns a path on the piece 
of paper inserted in the device.

Because of the strength of Batanes winds, hedgerows are planted to shield their crops from the strength of the wind. 
The crisscross pattern that you can see above are the hedgerows.

2nd  stop: Chanarian View Deck 

The Chanarian view deck has stairs you can use to get a closer view of the site. 
This is halfway down the steps.

The view below. 
You can still go further down if you want to.

3rd stop: Mahatao: San Carlos Borromeo Church

4th stop: Oldest house

5th stop: Ivana

Ivana Church

Ruins of the 1st Church of San Jose

Ivana Port with Jackstones

Honesty Coffee Shop
Outside Honesty Coffee shop

Inside Honesty Coffee Shop
The Rules inside the coffee shop

Vakul (Batanes headress) for kids
being sold at Honesty Coffee shop

6th stop: Naidi Hills

A Batanes woman wearing the traditional vakul

7th stop Basco lighthouse

Dinner at Basco lighthouse
Note: We paid driver and van overtime because we went beyond 6pm

Carmel Cars and Limo: Best Budget New York Airport Transportation for 6

Carmel Cars and Limo: 
Best Budget New York Airport Transportation for 6

When we visited New York in May 2012, I discovered that the cheapest airport transportation  for a family of 6 is Carmel Limo. We used Carmel Limo from Yonkers, NY (New York Westchester area) to JFK. 

Check out the New York Rates

Why use Carmel Cars:

1. It's the cheapest airport transportation for a family of 6
I normally use Supershuttle for my Los Angeles airport transportation, but in New York, Supershuttle is more expensive than Carmel Limo. 
For a family of 6, the total cost from Yonkers, New York to JFK (one-way) is $102 + tip for a total of $120, broken down as follows:
Mini Van good for 6 people is 89 usd, plus
Roundtrip toll to JFK ($6.50 per way) is 13 usd, plus
Tip (20%) is $18.
Take Note: For 6 people, you have a choice of a MINI VAN or an SUV. What's the difference between a minivan and an SUV? Why is the mini van fare $89 while an SUV fare is $168?
The answer is LUGGAGE!!! 
A mini van's trunk can only accommodate six (6) people and four (4) checked  luggage. In our case, we had six (6) carry on luggage and one (1) checked luggage. Two (2) carry-on luggage is more or less equivalent to one (1) checked luggage. So the dimensions of all the luggage we had were equivalent to four (4) checked luggage. 
Do not make the mistake of indicating less luggage than you actually have so you can order the cheaper mini van instead of an SUV. It will be more expensive and will cause delays to call for another ride in case your luggage s do not fit. 
This photo is from Carmel Car website.
Our minivan was color white.
This is just to give you an idea about luggage space at the bac

2. Carmel Cars has a wider area of coverage than other car service
Here is a list of covered areas: 
Other airports: Teterboro, Long Island/Mac Arthur, Westchester County 
New York City 
New York (Manhattan)
New York (Hotels)
Staten Island 
Out of Town
New York State 
New York Westchester 
Long Island
New Jersey State
3. Carmel cars is easy and reliable to book online. 
The confirmation number you get is easy to remember since it's the phone number you provided. And the cars arrive on time so it's reliable to book online. 
4. Carmel cars do not require prepayment of the fare when reserving and booking their cars online.
My review: 
The car we ordered came on time. In fact, several hours before our pick up time, the driver called us to find out the exact time of our flight to make sure that the pick up time we indicated in the online form is enough time to travel from Yonkers to the airport. He encountered horrible traffic in the morning because it was Memorial Day weekend so he was concerned that we may not have known that detail when we indicated the pick-up time. So more than arriving on time to pick us up, he made sure we arrived at the airport on time.

The drive lasted an hour and the driver was very friendly and conversed with my husband the whole trip.

In conclusion: I will definitely use Carmel Car again when we visit New York and will recommend it to friends and relatives for its value and good service.