Divisoria With Kids

December 1, 2010

Divisoria with Kids

Every year, during sembreak, I bring my kids to shop at Divisoria. Divisoria, in the Philippines,  is known as a place where you can shop for all kinds of goods at rock bottom prices. Divisoria shopping means shopping the streets of Divisoria in Manila to get the best bargain in all kinds of goods, from clothes to cellphone accessories. 

This is not the Divisoria shopping I brought my kids to. The Divisoria shopping I'm talking about is shopping at the 168 mall at Soler Street. You get almost rock bottom Divisoria prices without the inconvenience that usually accompanies a trip to the streets of Divisoria.

Why bring kids to Divisoria?  I find that despite the hassle of traffic, parking space and hordes of people around you while you shop, it's still is worth it for me for the following reasons:
1. Christmas gifts for my kids' numerous friends are completed in only one shopping trip. The sheer number and diversity of products sold at 168 mall make this possible. 
2. My kids are able to choose gifts for friends and not be worried about not affording it. 
3. My kids also shop for clothes and shoes at 168 mall. Since kids so easily outgrow their clothes, it is logical to shop at Divisoria for clothes that they will not wear long enough to ruin them. Divisoria clothes are not reputed to be sturdy.  
4. Even after completing their shopping, my kids are amazed  they still have a lot of money left over from the trip.
Why go to the 168 Mall?
If you have kids with you, it's more convenient and safer to shop at 168 mall than bring them to the streets of Divisoria. You still get Divisoria prices, but without all the inconvenience of shopping at Divisoria.
1. Security is tight. They have guards at the doors and guards that roam around the building with German shepherds. 
2. The place is fully airconditioned. 
  • There's no danger of kids getting sick because of the heat when shopping along Divisoria streets.
3. There are numerous toilets scattered around the building that are cleaned almost immediately after use.
4. There are 2 fast food courts that can cater to both adult and children's tastes. 
  • This means you have the familiar McDonalds, Jollibee, Chowking, Tokyo Tokyo, etc. 
  • And for adults like us, who are essentially tired of eating in these places, there are other food options like Thai, Cantonese, and Filipino food.
HERE IS MY STRATEGY for a hassle-free and organized shopping trip with kids at Divisoria
1. Choose a date with less traffic and people.
In our case, we decided to go the Sunday before November 1. Why?
  • Sundays in Manila has the least traffic. That takes care of traffic beyond Divisoria area.
  • We went there during sem break. That takes care of traffic in the vicinity of Divisoria. Several universities are near Divisoria. When there are classes, the streets of Recto are teeming with students trying to get a ride or walking down the streets. 
  •  Since the date is before November 1, there are less people in 168 mall because the money most people have at this time of the year is goes to spending for flowers and candles for All Saint's Day and not for Christmas shopping.
2. Arrive at 168 mall at opening time, so you can leave immediately after lunch when most people arrive. 
3. Organize a buddy system within your group.
One adult should supervise one child, or if the child is a bit older, the configuration could be one adult to supervise 2 children.
By grouping them, the kids can go on separate shopping trips with at least one adult to go with them. Since the adults have (at most) 2 kids to shop with, they can finish shopping in a shorter span of time
The money given to the kids can be taken cared of by the adult.
4. In case you don't have a driver, you can drop off your kids, with their partner adults at the mall entrance, and agree to meet 11am at the food court where McDonalds is located.
Just in case you don't see each other along the corridor between the stalls, you can just proceed to the agreed meeting place and time later. Just in case the kids get lost or separated from their companions, they know they will see you 11am at the food court.
5. Have your lunch 11am or earlier.
This ensures you have  tables and seats that you can reserve for your group. The table and seats will not only be used for dining but can also serve as a rest stop for tired companions or a place to leave your things in case some of the people in your group have not finished shopping by lunchtime. 
6. The kids should leave their cellphones at home or in the car.
7. Make sure to arrive at Divisoria with money broken down into small peso bills.
This saves you the trouble of having to wait for change. I found that having 100 peso bills make it convenient for me to shop in Divisoria.
Location of 168 Mall

Opening Hours in 2010

How to get there
Check out the instructions on how to commute to 168 mall.
Where to park

1. Mall parking

The new automated parking structure at the back of the mall can accomodate at least 180 cars. You can see from the video below how they retrieve the cars from the top level by using a vertical lift.

2. Outside parking
There's a big parking lot along Alvarado Street. See map below

Other Important Services and Facilities
1. ATM machines
The location of the ATM machines

2. Food Court

Food Court 1

Food Court 2

Up Close and Personal with the Tarsiers of Bohol

November 30, 2010

Up Close and Personal with the Tarsiers of Bohol

Why you shouldn't miss seeing the Tarsiers of Bohol
You cannot find it anywhere in the world except where it is endemic, like in Bohol. They cannot be transported anywhere like other animals because they are so sensitive and easily traumatized. Those who have attempted to smuggle them outside their habitat were unsuccessful. The Tarsiers are so sensitive, they commit suicide and die when they are touched. Therefore you cannot find it in different zoos around the world. 

What Kids Should Know
  • What are Tarsiers
  1. They are the world's smallest primate. They have similar physical characteristics as the monkey. 
  2. They are also one of the oldest land species, existing for almost 45 million years
  • Where can it be found
  1. The Philippines (in Bohol, Leyte, Samar and Mindanao) 
  2. Indonesia (in Sulawesi, Borneo, Sumatra) 
  • Interesting facts about the Tarsiers of Bohol 
(taken from http://www.tarsierfoundation.org/the-tarsiers-of-bohol)
  •  They are nocturnal animals (meaning they are active at night and sleep during the day) and should not be disturbed at day time  
  • Their main diet is insects and should not be fed with meat. 
  • They commit suicide during captivity due to trauma from touching and loud noise. 
  • They’re one of the slowest fetal growth rates of any mammal, taking 6 months to reach a birth weight of 23 grams. 
  • A single tarsier needs at least a hectare of space per individual 

1:30PM -1:45 PM: Traveled from the Loboc River to the Tarsier Sanctuary

1:45 PM-215pm: Saw and fed the Tarsiers of Bohol

They sleep during the day.

This is how close we were able to see the Tarsier.

No touching!
My daughter pretending to touch the Tarsier.

See our next stop: The Actual Blood Compact Site

Lunch at the Loboc River Cruise

November 29, 2010

Lunch at the Loboc River Cruise

What Kids Should Know
  • Where it is located: at Loay-Loboc River
  • Why is the river important in the history of Loboc: the Loboc River is important because most of the inhabitants pf this town live near the river before the Spaniards came and established the town.
  • What the river cruise boat is made of: The river cruise boat, which is also a floating restaurant, is made of 2 boats with a platform on top.
  • What to expect:  The cruise takes you along the Loboc River. While on the cruise, you dine with Filipino food, buffet style, and are entertained by locals dancing and singing Filipino songs on a platform built on one side of the river. At the end of the river is a small waterfalls.
11:30 AM -12:00 PM: Registration at the terminal of the Lobor River Cruise

Our guide, Tatsky, recommended Riverwatch Floating Restaurant. 

The Menu of Riverwatch: Pork Barbecue, Grilled Fish, Grilled Squid, Crab, Kutsinta and Suman, Ginaling, Malagkit, Fresh Mango, Mix Vegetables, Bamboo Shoots, Pancit, Pinakbet, Etc.

The ticket
Free wifi at the terminal
The new rates as of May 1, 2010

 12:00 PM -1:30 PM: Loboc River Cruise

Boarding the floating restaurant

The floating restaurant built on top of 2 large bancas

Dining at the floating restaurant

The end of the River where the boat takes a u-turn

A small performance was made by the locals singing Filipino songs on a platform on the side of the river.

German Christmas Market

November 26, 2010

German Christmas Market

Mamasko tayo sa Weihnachtsmarkt!
The 2nd German Christmas Market will be held in the campus of the Ateneo de Manila University. The event brings together students, teachers, parents and educational partners to experience German culture through various contests, educational games, concerts, dance performances, sport competitions, cooking demos and food tastings. Let us come together to experience a traditional German holiday cheer!
(Taken from the Goethe Institute Website.)

What I Love about the German Christmas Market
1. The Stollen!

  • They have the best and freshest stollen I've ever tasted! Santis Delicatessen usually sells the Stollen during the Christmas season, but the Stollen at the German Christmas Market is much better.
  • What is a Stollen:  Stollen is a loaf-shaped cake containing dried fruit, and covered with sugar, powdered sugar or icing. The cake is usually made with chopped candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts and spices. Stollen is a traditional German cake, usually eaten during the Christmas season, when called Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen. A similar cake from the Dutch cuisine is called a Kerststol in Dutch, while in Italian cuisine the panettone also shows a likeness. (from Wikipedia)
2. The different varieties of sausage available.
3. The different food stalls that mainly carries European food. And of course, German cuisine is widely available.

What Kids Will Learn
1. They will have a brief exposure to German culture, more particularly, the German Christmas tradition.
2. They will learn that the tradition of having Christmas Markets originated from Germany.
A Christmas market, also known as Christkindlmarkt, Christkindlesmarkt, Christkindlmarket, and Weihnachtsmarkt, is a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. These markets originated in Germany and Alsace but are now being held in many other countries. (from Wikipedia)

Location of the 2010 Christmas Market 

To view the Ateneo School Map, see here

Bring back WoW Philippines!

November 19, 2010


Bring back WoW Philippines!

As of this writing, the Department of Tourism is reconsidering it's decision to adopt " Pilipinas Kay Ganda" as the new slogan of the Philippines tourism campaign. We should make more of our voices heard so the new government will bring it back and continue to use it. 

To recall why the Wow Philippines! ad won at both the prestigious Internationale Tourismus Borse (ITB) in Berlin and World Travel Mart in London in 2003, see the collection of video commercials below:

15 second spot commercials shown at CNN and BBC

Video uploaded by PlaneFreak

Video uploaded by PlaneFreak

30 second spot commercials shown in Asia:

Video uploaded by PlaneFreak

30 second spot commercials shown in Europe:

Video uploaded by PlaneFreak

Holidays in the Philippines

November 18, 2010

Holidays in the Philippines

People often refer to the Holiday Economics Law (RA 9492) to find out when the regular holidays and nationwide special holidays are observed in the Philippines. However, with the addition of the Eidul Adha holiday with the enactment of RA 9848 last December 2009, we now refer to RA 9848 as the most recent law on regular and nationwide special holidays. Below is the list of non-working holidays in the Philippines

Regular Holidays

New Year's Day-January 1
Maundy Thursday- Movable Date
Good Friday- Movable Date
Eidul Fitr- Movable Date
Eidul Adha- Movable Date
Araw ng Kagitingan
(Bataan and Corregidor Day)
- Monday nearest April 9
Labor Day- Monday nearest May 1
Independence Day- Monday nearest June 12
National Heroes Day- Last Monday of August
Bonifacio Day- Monday nearest November 30
Christmas Day- December 25
Rizal Day- Monday nearest December 30

Nationwide Special Holidays

Ninoy Aquino Day- Monday nearest August 21
All Saints Day- November 1
Last Day of the Year- December 31

NOTE: With the new government of President Aquino, we don't know whether we are celebrating the holiday on the day itself or the Monday nearest the date, as the law provides.  Check out my article on 3 day long weekends in the Philippines.

Puerto Princesa Underground River: Finalist in the New 7 Wonders of Nature

November 17, 2010

Puerto Princesa Underground River:
Finalist in the New 7 Wonders of Nature

We have all heard in the newspapers about the campaign to vote for the New 7 Wonders of Nature. This is an update.

The nominees for the 7 wonders of nature came from more than 440 locations and 220 countries.  The global voting was conducted from December 2007 until July 7, 2009. Only 77 nominees were chosen.

After the 77 nominees were chosen, the Panel of Experts deliberated for 2 weeks and then announced the 28 finalists on July 21,2009. Among them is the Philippines' Puerto Princesa Underground River.

Update on our current ranking:
We are currently in the top 14. The global voting is still ongoing. The Official Declaration on the new 7 Wonders of Nature will be made on November 11, 2011. We have less than a year to vote. If you haven't voted yet, go here to vote. A sample is shown below: