Wine Depot's 2012 Wine and Food Festival

August 27, 2012

Wine Depot

Wine Depot's 2012 Wine and Food Festival 

Wine Depot is once again holding it's wine and food festival this year. Check out the announcement below:

Phil Wine & Food Week Teaser Ad

Details are as follows:

Date: October 13, 2012, Saturday

Time: 2:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Venue: Main Ballroom of New World Hotel

Entrance fee: 
Regular Price: P1,500
Early bird price till September 15: P1,200
Group price (10 persons): P1,200

  • The rate is more expensive for non-members (I think, around 1800 pesos) so I suggest that you just register for free and become a member to avail of the member's rate.
  • Promo rate: Buy 8 tickets and get 2 tickets free (so you pay only 1200 per ticket or an equivalent of 20% discount for a group of 10)
Inclusions: all food and wine served at the venue
  • Note: I have no details yet as to the wineries and restaurants joining this year but if it's the same as the previous years, the rate of 1500 pesos is worth it. In the previous years, they have over 200 wines served from different regions like France, Italy, Australia, California, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, etc. And the food served came from fine dining restaurants and hotel restaurants. 
  • I will update this post when I have more information on the participants. Right now, this is the email alert Wine Depot sent to Toast Club members to give their members advance notice and encourage them to buy tickets already for the wine festival. The venue can accommodate only a limited number of people so it is best to buy tickets as soon as possible.
Update: for List of Wineries and other participants, see here

Where to buy:
You can buy the tickets at their stores located in Greenhills, Makati and Alabang. See location and contact information here

Kennedy Space Center: Where to buy discounted tickets

Kennedy Space Center, Florida: 
Where to buy discounted tickets

For a family of 6 like us, any discount, however small, matters because the discount I get is always multiplied by six. When added together the total amount amount of discount is substantial in the end.

The Kennedy Space Center website shows that admission tickets are $50. Check out the ticket prices here. However, I found that ticket prices are only $40.95 at Undercover Tourist. That's a hefty $9 discount. Check out the Undercover Tourist ticket prices here.

Why choose Undercover Tourist:

1. Undercover Tourist is a reliable and legitimate ticket broker.
We purchased tickets at Undercover Tourist and didn't encounter any problem.
If you wish to check out other reviews, see the tripadvisor forum reviews here.
2. Undercover Tourist ships your tickets for free.
If you choose regular shipping, they ship it for free. Regular shipping guarantees that you receive your ticket within 10 business days from your order.
If you can't wait 10 business days to receive it, you can choose to pick it up at The UPS Store (located near Universal Studios) at 4630 Kirkman Rd, Orlando, Florida. 

3. Undercover Tourist provides discounted tickets to other Orlando attractions.

Contact information:
Business Address: 642 Carswell Avenue, Holly Hill, Fl
Telephone Number:

  • USA Toll Free: 1 800 846 1302
    Mon-Fri, 9am - 4pm E.S.T
  • UK Freephone: 0800 081 1702
    Mon-Fri, 2pm - 9pm G.M.T
  • Worldwide: +1 386 239 8624
  • Fax: 386 252 3469

Explore El Nido by Motorbike (Part III: How to go to Nacpan Beach)

August 23, 2012

Explore El Nido by Motorbike
Part 3: How to go to Nacpan Beach

Map showing how to go to Nacpan Beach
Encircled site is Nacpan Beach

1. Take the road from El Nido town going to El Nido airport

This is the road from El Nido town to the airport
The sign at the right points to the road leading to the entrance of El Nido airport.
Don't turn left on that road.
Go straight ahead.

A close up of the sign shown in the photo above

A look at the road leading to the entrance of El Nido airport

2. Go straight ahead till you reach the road shown below, with a sign on the left. The sign says that the road to your left goes to Pasadena-Bucana. Take that road.

Take the road to your left leading to Pasadena-Bucana

View of the road to Pasadena-Bucana

More views of the road

3. Take the Pasadena-Bucana road till you reach the sign showing the direction to Calitang Elementary School. Turn left.

Turn left to the road leading the Calitang Elementary School

A close-up of the sign you need to watch out for

Another view of the road

4. Enter the road going to the direction of Calitang Elementary School. 

Pass this small bridge

Be careful. The road you'll be passing is rough road.

Pass this second bridge

5. Go straight ahead till you reach a small village. Turn right when you see this road. The only marker we can see is the waiting shed shown below.

More views of the road leading to Nacpan Beach

You will pass this house along the road to Nacpan Beach.
There's nothing distinctive about this house except the 
satellite dish on its roof, an unusual thing to see in such a remote village.

5. You know you have reached Nacpan Beach when you see these structures.

The right structure is the beach house of a Swiss national.
The left structure is the caretaker's house.

A closer view of the structures shown above

We parked our motorbike beside the caretaker's house.

If you want cold drinks after a long drive,
you can buy the drinks from the caretaker.

How to book Skyjet Airlines to Batanes

August 16, 2012

How to Book Skyjet Airlines to Batanes

At present, there are three (3) airlines flying the route Manila to Batanes. The current status of these airlines are as follows:

Southeast Asian Airlines: They have seasonal flights to Batanes, which means they have flights only during peak season travel, and they suspend flights during low  season travel. As of the time of this writing, they have no flights to Batanes. The reservation officer I spoke with said they may begin flights in October 2012. 
Skypasada Airlines: They have early morning flights twice a week from Manila to Batanes (Wednesdays and Fridays), and afternoon flights twice a week from Batanes to Manila (Thursdays and Sundays). You can book flights online here.
Skyjet Airlines: They have weekly early morning Saturday flights from Manila to Batanes. At present, it cannot be booked online.

How to book Skyjet Airlines:

  1. Call (+632) 635-48-10 or email
  2. Reserve the preferred date of flight by phone or by email.
  3. They will inform you Philippine bank account number where you can deposit your payment.
  4. After payment, email to them the bank details of payment or the photo of the deposit slip.
  5. Upon receipt of payment, they will email to you your e-ticket.

Note: As of this writing, they only have Aug 18, 2012 and Aug 25, 2012 flights. They are still waiting for their permit for September flights.

Right now, the only advantage I see in booking Skyjet airlines, is the availability of Saturday flights during low season travel. The fares are almost the same as Skypasada airlines.

Update on Manila to Batanes flights of Skyjet as of February 2013!! Check out the link below:

Manila to Batanes flights (Airlines, Schedule, Fares)

Seasonal flights of SEAIR (Southeast Asian Airlines)

August 10, 2012

Seasonal flights of 
SEAIR (Southeast Asian Airlines)

I tried finding flights to Caticlan for a friend of mine and discovered as of this writing     that SEAIR, who's famous for having the shortest flight to Boracay thru Caticlan, currently has no flights to Caticlan. The reservation officer said that Caticlan flights are expected to resume in October 2012. So check this out in October. 

So I decided to make this post on the seasonal flights of SEAIR because a lot of people are asking me why these routes cannot be booked online when they have it in their route map in their website. The routes that currently cannot be booked online are their seasonal flights.

What are seasonal flights?
These flights stop during low travel season in the Philippines and begin during peak travel season. In the Philippines, the low travel season are from mid-June to mid-October, November to mid-December, January to mid-March. At SEAIR the seasonal flights usually involve flights using small turbo prop planes, which are usually 19-seater or 32-seater planes. The seasonal flights do not fly during low travel season. These involve the ff. SEAIR routes:
Manila- Basco (Batanes)-Manila flight 
Manila-Tablas Island (Romblon)-Manila flight 
Manila-Caticlan (Boracay)-Manila flight.
SEAIR stopped flying to El Nido
In our trip to El Nido last April 2011, we used roundtrip SEAIR flights to get there. Sadly, since March 2012, SEAIR no longer flies to El Nido airport. At present, the only airline using El Nido airport is Island Transvoyager.  

Island Transvoyager is the official carrier of El Nido resorts. So the Manila-El Nido flights are usually reserved for El Nido resorts guests. If you are not an El Nido resorts guest, the Manila to El Nido flight is only bookable 5 days before the flight. Email Island Transvoyager for more information.

The El Nido-Manila Island Transvoyager flight, however, can be booked in advance through El Nido Boutique and Art Cafe. 

Making Sense of New York City Hotel Rates

August 2, 2012

Photo courtesy of the New Yorker hotel website

Making Sense of Your New York City Hotel Rates

Update as of March 22, 2019!!!: I booked the New Yorker hotel and the same tax rates still apply. But now, in addition to the taxes and fees mentioned below, hotels now charge a facility or resort fee, which is a fee for the use of the gym, wifi and other facilities of the hotel. This facility or resort fee is charged whether or not the guest uses the facilities mentioned.

Below is the post I wrote in August 2012:
When booking your New York City hotel, be aware that in addition to the room rate that the hotel will quote you, multiple taxes will still be charged to you in addition to the room rate. Make sure to clarify that whatever rate the hotel will give you should include all the taxes already. To help you understand how it's computed, see the sample below:

The taxes and charges per room per night as of 2012 is $3.50 + 14.75% of the room rate  per night broken down as follows:

  • NYC Hotel Unit Fee: $1.50 per day
  • Occupancy Tax: $2.00 per day
  • New York Sales Tax: 8.875% of the room rate broken down as:
  • 4% New York State Sales Tax
  • 4.5% New York City Sales Tax
  • 0.375% Transportation District Surcharge
  • New York City Hotel Tax: 5.875%

So if your room rate per night is $300, your tax is $47.75 ($3.50 + $44.25, which is 14.75% of $300). Total room cost is now $347.75 per night. Almost 1/8 of your total room cost is tax so it's important to know beforehand if the rate you're booking includes the tax or not.

Check out this site for an easy Hotel Rate Calculator

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