Monday, May 22

Touring Around Cabanatuan City

Cabanatuan City is not really known as a tourism hub by many. It's more popular as a city in one of the leading rice-producing provinces in the country. Located in Region 3 in Nueva Ecija, in an area called Gitnang Kapatagan or Central Plains in English.

I thought that there was nothing to see here, but an unexpected vacation over Labor Day weekend proved me wrong. Aside from visiting a relative, I found myself walking around the city center and found these landmarks worth taking note of.

Freedom Park and Old Capitol Building
Freedom Park was about five minutes from my hotel. It was designed by an American architect named William E. Parsons who was also in charge of other government buildings during the American period in Cebu, Manila and Laguna.

Thursday, May 18

Visa Free Entry to Taiwan for Filipinos Moved to September 2017

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines has released this latest notice in their website.

Filipinos will finally be able to visit Taiwan without visa but there will be a slight delay in its implementation. Formerly announced to take place in June 2017, it will take effect on September 2017. We hope that there will be no more delays. :D

The implementation of VISA-FREE entry to the ROC (Taiwan) for Filipinos has been rescheduled to September 2017, and the exact date of the commencement of the implementation of the visa-free treatment will be further announced in September or at other appropriate date this year

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of the Republic of China (Taiwan) has recently announced that the implementation of visa-free entry to the ROC (Taiwan) for Filipinos has been postponed in order to complete relevant administrative procedures and inter-agency coordination. MOFA is expected to release the full details of the implementation of the said visa-free arrangements including the exact date of the commencement of implementing the visa-free treatment and its requirements either in September 2017 or at an appropriate date in due course.
Since 2016, the ROC (Taiwan) government has adopted a number of visa liberalization measures for the Philippine nationals to visit Taiwan as part of its “New Southbound Policy”. These measures are expected to enhance the bilateral relations, and expand the multi-faceted exchanges and cooperation between Taiwan and the Philippines.
Despite the postponement of the said visa-free policy, since as from October 2016, the Philippines has been included in Taiwan’s e-visa program list, for Filipinos who wish to visit Taiwan for tourism or a short visit, they are advised to continue to apply for either free Travel Authorization Certification (TAC), or payable e-visa (single entry:NTD1,632) or the payable appropriate proper visa stamped in the passport (single entry:P2,400, multiple entry:P4,800). Therefore, for the time being, prior to the full implementation of the visa-free arrangements, Filipinos should still follow the existing visa regulations and procedures to obtain visa(s) before travel to Taiwan.
In addition, MOFA has decided to further enlarge the eligibility criteria of the ROC (Taiwan) Travel Authorization Certificate (TAC) for qualified Philippine travellers starting from 1st June this year. Filipinos who have been issued with an ROC (Taiwan) visa (labor visas with remarks “FL” or “X” are excluded) over the recent 10 years may also apply for the said TAC, no need to pay any feeThe said TAC allows multiple-entries to Taiwan, valid for 90 days with every stay up to 30 days.
Dr. Gary Song-Huann Lin, Representative of the ROC (Taiwan) to the Philippines, wishes to emphasize that the granting of visa-free privilege to Filipinos is one of his priority work plans during his tenure in the Philippines, and that he and his colleagues in TECO will make strenuous efforts to make his dream of closer Taiwan-Philippines bilateral ties come true as soon as possible. It aims to enhance the mutually beneficial bilateral tourism, trade, investment, agricultural, technology, economic, cultural, educational and people-to-people cooperation and exchanges between Taiwan and the Philippines.
Representative Lin further pointed out that the postponement is simply for smooth operations, more effective immigration procedure, and the safeguard of security for all passengers. The direction of the visa-free policy remains unchanged. As Taiwan is implementing “New Southbound Policy”, “the Philippines is considered as an important partner of Taiwan, so we are really making efforts to welcome more Filipino visitors to visit Taiwan, and the postponement of the visa-free arrangements is only intended to conduct seamless operations, facilitate the entry to Taiwan, and enhance security and safety for everyone”, as mentioned by Representative Lin.
For further visa information, you may check the website of TECO in the Philippines at
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines
May 16, 2017, Makati City, Metro Manila

Monday, May 15

A Laid-back Summering at Harvest Hotel

Summer this year was so hot and humid that even the thought of going to the beach to cool down didn't really entice me. But what is summer without at least one out of town escapade! I wanted a toned down travel. One over the weekend. And when I chose to explore Cabanatuan City, it turned out that I found the perfect hotel which perfectly suited all my needs.
The hotel at night

Monday, May 8

Supremo 4K: An Affordable Action Camera for the Adventure Seeker

For the meticulous traveler, gadgets capable of documenting different kinds of activities are a necessity nowadays. A simple mobile phone or camera sometimes no longer does the trick. Over time, we have seen the advent of action cameras which definitely spiced up the traveling sphere. So when I received my Supremo 4K Action Camera, I knew that I would be in a different kind of adventure.

I am not really a fan of technical stuff, but I do try to learn things on my own. I looked over Supremo 4K's specs and I can pretty much say that it's one competitive product - better suited for the adventure-loving wanderer. 

Monday, May 1

An Afternoon in Dumaguete

Whenever I mention to my friends about wanting to visit Dumaguete, I always get the same reaction, a wide bright smile followed by an eager 'Maganda roon! Punta ka na!' (It's beautiful there, you'd better go!)I finally did this March after my 3-day Siquijor sojourn.

My body was still aching from the activities back in Siquijor. I decided to just lay low in the city and was just thinking of relaxing in my hotel room all day. However, there were quite a few misgivings in where I stayed that I decided to spend a couple of hours exploring the downtown.

From my hotel, I walked for about ten minutes to reach the city center. I immediately went straight to Dumaguete Cathedral. It was nearing the last hour before dusk and I had to settle for a slightly overcast sky. Nevertheless, I was glad that there was no mass being held. I entered the church and found out that it was undergoing some renovations. Aside from a handful of praying individuals, I had the church all to myself.

The church was like the other Catholic churches
I have seen, but the Campanario de Dumaguete sure attracted my attention. It is a famous landmark which was built in 1811 serving as a watchtower for incoming Moro raiders in the early days. 

Monday, April 24

Conquering the Bewitching Siquijor

When I told some of my friends that I am going to explore Siquijor on my own, words like scary, witch and the like instantly came out of their mouths. These and a couple of occult warnings which could send chills up your spine if you are someone not keen to the supernatural.

Well, I can say I am one adventurous gal and I can no longer postpone a visit to this island province much longer. So when a chance to book an uber cheap round trip ticket to Dumaguete came up last year, I reserved right away. 

It was supposed to be a five day sojourn, but my work schedule didn't allow it. I trimmed down my vacation to four days and voila, I was still able explore Siquijor for two whole days, my eyes and heart all full.

Monday, April 17

Where to Stay in Siquijor: Blue Wave Inn

I originally planned a solo trip to Siquijor. Last year, I was able to score an uber cheap RT airfare for only 560 pesos. Siquijor has always been in my travel pipeline and I was glad to share my successful booking to a couple of friends.

Well, it turned out they wanted to accompany me on this planned solo getaway. I immediately invited them given that three heads are better than one. Specially when it comes to travel expenses.

Since one became three, we agreed to look for a nice place in Siquijor that could conveniently accommodate us all three. We also wanted a room that comes with free breakfast.

Monday, April 10

Bohol's Never Fading Beauty

Traveling with Marx has always been on the laid back side. Being the cool and collected guy that he is, I learned to like his type of traveling through the years. For this year, our trip was set in the ever beautiful province of Bohol. He mentioned of wanting to stay in Panglao this time. I immediately agreed to be with him upon hearing the magic word which was beach. Beach means 'Yes, I will go with you!' This guy knows me pretty well. 

Tuesday, April 4

Be Grand Resort: A Resort Like No Other

In my second visit to the beautiful Bohol province, my friend and I were blessed to have stayed at one of the finest resorts in Panglao Island. Be Grand Resort truly lived up to its name - exquisite and modern, superior and elegant with just the right amount of laid-back charm.

'BE Grand Resort sets in 2.9 hectares of land in the sun-drenched beach of Panglao Island, Bohol - home to the famous Chocolate Hills and one of the smallest primates, the Philippine Tarsier. The resort is just 40 minutes away from Tagbilaran Airport anf 35 minutes away from the city's shopping and commercial district.'

Monday, April 3

Vista Cinemas to Extend Operating Hours for “Fast and Furious 8

Vista Cinemas will have an extended operating hours on Black Saturday for “Fast and Furious 8.” All branches of Vista Cinemas, namely, Vista Mall Taguig, Vista Mall Pampanga, Vista Mall Sta. Rosa, Vista Mall Bataan and Evia Lifestyle Center have already started selling tickets beginning March 2.

Vista Cinemas at Evia Lifestyle Center will show the movie 24 hours on April 15, starting with a big 8:00 AM opening, that will go straight until the night of April 16, Easter Sunday. While only the cinemas at Evia Lifestyle Center will open 24 hours, the rest of the branches will open as early as 8:00 AM, and will have late night screenings as well.

Monday, March 27

#SteerTrue: Adventure Awaits with Hull & Stern

Most of my travels almost always include a trip to different waterscapes. May it be the sea, lakes or waterfalls or just a simple hotel pool. I love swimming and the simple thought of a travel with no constant communing with the water world makes me sad.

As I love being near the waters, sometimes it's hard to keep my valuables safe and dry. My earliest ventures to the beaches of the Philippines would lead me to shopping for beach bags which claimed to be 'water proof', but were actually not. 
So I was glad to have finally been able to try out a reliable travel gear like Hull & Stern Dry Bag. I have brought it with me in my various travels the past months. Having all the qualities I was looking for in a dry bag, my travels turned out to be more fun and totally hassle-free.

Monday, March 20

Day Tour in Dakak Resort

Our last full day in Dapitan was spent inside the well-known Dakak Beach Resort. It was raining in the morning of our planned visit. Luckily, it went away later in the day. 

Funny that after a few decades of hearing its commercial in Eat Bulaga since I was a little girl, I felt kind of giddy to finally having stepped foot in it.
To make the most of our day, my friend and I decided to have our breakfast in the resort. After preparing our things, we went out the still wet street (it was raining cats and dogs the previous night) and hailed a trike to take us to Dakak. However, our trike driver explained to us that tricycles are forbidden now since the route is only suitable for four-wheeled vehicles or for motorbikes which locals refer to as habal-habal.

He gladly offered to take us to his cousin who has one. After thanking and paying him, he introduced us to Kuya Edmond before taking off.

Good morning from Dakak Beach Resort! #dakakbeachresort #dapitan #ponderingpaodaolei #themermaidwanders

123 Likes, 2 Comments - Pondering Paodaolei (@paodaolei) on Instagram: "Good morning from Dakak Beach Resort! #dakakbeachresort #dapitan #ponderingpaodaolei..."
We took advantage of the day tour pass priced at only Php 1000 per person. We were only planning to try the ATV or Zipline then spend the rest of our day in the beach. However, an unexpected visitor came and my hormones were whacked up that we only lounged beside one of the pools and tried the promo we saw posted at the gate - 500 pesos for horseback ride and zipline combination.

They said that I conquered the longest zipline in Asia at 1364 m and at 300 m high! 😁 #zipline #dakakbeachresort #ponderingpaodaolei #zamboangadelnorte

68 Likes, 4 Comments - Pondering Paodaolei (@paodaolei) on Instagram: "They said that I conquered the longest zipline in Asia at 1364 m and at 300 m high! 😁 #zipline..."
Dakak's Gorgoeous Shoreline 
It turns out that this resort was owned by former politician.

Since our visit was on a weekday, there were not much tourists. The resort was huge and even if the place was packed I am sure that you still can get a cozy spot to yourselves. 

Staying here for a number of days is more enjoyable as guests will find everything they need inside. There are several restaurants to choose from, various swimming pools, private huts, and outdoor facilities.

It was also a good choice for a destination wedding. The beach is in a cove, making the waters calm and child-friendly. I was actually curious if its shoreline was naturally white sand. But seeing the rest of shoreline when we zip-lined made me think otherwise.

Day tour is between 8 AM to 6 PM. And from the things we that were able to do in this span of time, I can say that the 1000 peso fee was worth it. We called it a day and we went back to the town proper before night fell. 

Habal-Habal for Hire 
Kuya Edmond - 0936 563 5405
Itinerary and Expenses
Click here to check out how much I spent for this trip.

Monday, March 13

Where to Stay in Dapitan: Travel Bee Heritage Inn

I wanted our lodging in Dapitan to be both modest and nice. As compliments to the simple surroundings we were in, we found a gem when we stayed for a couple of nights at Travel Bee Heritage Inn.

Located in Maria Clara corner Retiro Sts., this lovely inn was a former ancestral home.

It is just within walking distance from St. James Cathedral, an 8 Peso per person trike ride to Dapitan Sunset Blvd. and under ten minutes from Rizal Shrine. 
If coming from Dipolog City, alight at Maria Clara St. and look for the Travel Bee Heritage Inn sign as seen below. 

Travel Bee Heritage Inn
Book Discounted Rooms Here!
(065) 213-6480
Ma. Clara St. corner Retiro St., Banonong, 
Dapitan City, Philippines

Itinerary and Expenses
Click here to check out how much I spent for this trip.

Monday, March 6

Dapitan City's Simple Allure

If there was destination I would not mind visiting again soon, It will be Dapitan City. Sure, it is not as bustling as Cebu nor cosmopolitan like Davao. But what sets Dapitan City for me is its simple allure, a laid back charm strengthened by the memories of one great man named Dr. Jose P. Rizal, the Philippines' National Hero.

Tuesday, February 28

A Day in Dipolog

We stayed one night in Dipolog City before spending two nights in Dapitan. My long time travel buddy and I originally planned to just head straight to Dapitan because we thought there was nothing to see or do here. 

But my gut told me that a night's stay is a must. It turned out to be a nice introduction to the province of Zamboanga del Norte. My friend and I stayed at one of the more upscale hotels in the city, D'Hotel and Suites. But no matter how nice our room was, we dragged ourselves out as our main purpose was to see what this third class city and the capital of the province has to offer.
After getting some rest, My friend and I quickly headed to the city center as the sun was already beginning to set. I caught a quick glimpse of the cathedral when I alighted the van earlier and I made a mental note to make it as our first stop. 

Tuesday, February 21

A Relaxing Seda Nuvali Hotel Staycation via Traveloka

Sta. Rosa City, Laguna has seen its fair share of rapid development, thanks to its strategic location and vibrant local community. Several hotels have sprung up here over the years. 

I wanted to experience staying in a Seda hotel as soon as its Nuvali branch opened in my hometown a few years back. But budget was a major concern since this hotel is on the upscale side. But that all changed when I chanced upon a booking app called Traveloka. Here, I can easily find better rates and book my favorite hotels in no time. 

Tuesday, February 14

Experiencing Affordable Luxury at D' Hotel and Suites

It was my first time visiting Zamboanga del Norte in Mindanao and I chose Dipolog City as the first place to visit in the province. Being in an unfamiliar territory often leaves me a bit nervous so choosing a nice place to stay in was one of my priorities.

Upon learning of D'Hotel and Suites, I knew it will be where we will be spending our one-night stay in the city. Yes, it was rather short but it came out more comfortable than we expected.

We gladly took advantage of the complimentary airport shuttle. The weather upon our arrival was hot and the van's cool temperature helped us to settle down. The ride was quick, just under ten minutes.

Monday, February 6

BGC Hostel Makati

It was Miss Universe weekend and I was so pumped up that I needed to get out of the house before the big day last Monday. My friends and I had this tradition of meeting at least once a month for our usual get-together. This time, we were able to secure a one-night staycation at the hip BGC Makati Hostel.  There was supposed to be four of us but I ended up only with Jherson as the other two were not feeling well. 

The hostel is near the fast-rising BGC business district, just within walking distance from EDSA through Dinalag St. If commuting, its location may seem hard to find at first but is actually advantageous for those seeking a good place to relax within the city. 
My friend Jherson and I stayed in a room with four bunk beds. Bathroom is shared where the toilet is separated from the shower room. But that was just fine as each cubicle was neat and spacious enough. Linens were provided free of charge like towels and tissue. But you have to bring your own toiletries (i.e. soap, shampoo, toothpaste) as this wasn't included in the room rate. Lockers were also available to use free of charge for each guest. The lockers were secured by a digital rotating lock.

Our private sanctuary for the next 24 hours. 😄 #ponderingpaodaolei #themermaidwanders #bgchostel #bgchostelmakati

See this Instagram photo by @paodaolei * 57 likes

Our dorm room did not have any windows, and the super cool air coming from the air-conditioner felt like 10 degrees! Nonetheless, I had a good sleep, we just requested for the temperature to be adjusted. 

The reception will greet you upon entering the hostel premises. It has a common area, a pantry where you can have coffee and fix basic meals. The hostel 'living room' was filled with garden chairs and couches. There was also a lone computer. Just inform the staff if you will use it. 

While I thought there was no Wi-Fi, we were promptly given passwords when we mentioned it to the nice lady in charge. The connection was pretty decent so we didn't have a hard time going online to read our e-mails. 

At night, when all lights were turned on, the interiors come alive, very homey and softly lit. The strong colors of some accents were a perfect contrast to the wall's black and white graffiti.

There was a food house beside the hostel which opens at 10 AM and a nearby carinderia which operates from 7 AM. For other basic needs, 7-11 and Mercury Drug is also within the vicinity.

Since Miss Universe started at 8 AM the following day, I was out of the hostel at half past five. I woke up the still sleepy Jherson (sorry friend!). He was very kind to see me off safely in a bus. 

When I was alone in the room! Haha! #bgchostelmakati #bgchostel #ponderingpaodaolei #themermaidwanders

See this Instagram photo by @paodaolei * 68 likes
While I found the bed very comfortable and private (it has privacy curtains and a reading lamp), I wished I could've slept longer. But since Maxine finished at top 6 at Miss Universe, my sleepless state was worth it. I am looking forward to stay again at the hostel in March. This time with Mai who missed this staycation with me. :)

How To Get Here
* By public commute, taking the MRT or bus are the best options. Alight at Estrella St. and walk towards Dinalag St.  The hostel is just within a few meters from the highway. you will see the big and colorful BGC sign at the top of the building.

* Buendia MRT Station is the closest station to the hostel. Since I came from the south (and provincial buses aren't allowed to let off passengers everywhere), I alighted here and I took a bus towards Dinalag St. I tried walking but there was a segment along EDSA where there was no sidewalk at all! Dear me, I still want to live. I took an ordinary bus for P 10 and asked to be dropped off at Estrella, then I just walked towards Dinalag St. Next time, I will ask the bus to drop me off at Estrella so I won't have to take another bus. Pardon me, it was my first time in the area.

* Taking a cab would be the easiest wherever you will be coming from. Take Grab or Uber for they utilize maps. No reason for the driver to get lost.

BGC Hostel Makati

Wednesday, February 1

My First Time in Hong Kong and Macau

Hong Kong has always been one of the most popular tourist attractions for Southeast Asians. It was my first out of the country destination as a novice traveler. I have been to Hong Kong three times in the past in a span of one and a half years. It was so addicting that I traveled to this Asian megalopolis with different sets of people. The first time was with my family, the second one with my photographer friends and the last with my workmates.

We have visited the most popular Hong Kong tourist spots while we also dropped by at some quieter sites.

Victoria Harbour Lights Show
Cable Cars at the Ocean Park

Monday, January 16

Post New Year Stay at Green Sun Hotel Makati

It was mid-week of the first week of the first month of the year. And as if to further punctuate that the holidays were really over, I felt the need to extend my vacation for another night before facing the great possibilities of the next twelve months.

My friend Mai and I booked a one night stay at Green Sun Hotel after staying at Alcoves the previous two nights. The property was at a quieter location in Makati, along Chino Roces Extension, tucked away inside a renovated old car warehouse. 

Tuesday, January 3

A Chill Pre-Christmas Staycation at Alcoves

My company decided to hold its annual holiday party at an events place in Parañaque City. When the venue was announced a few months back, I started planning my logistics since the party ends at 12 MN and I reside in Laguna which was about an hour and half from Manila. It was too late to go home by public commute so I decided to spend the weekend in Makati for my safety and at the same time catch some last minute r & r before the holiday craze starts rolling.

It was less than two weeks before our party. I still wasn't able to find a place which suits my needs. I preferred it to be within the Makati business district. I also wanted it to be near shopping malls so I could do some last minute Christmas shopping. And lastly, I wanted the room to be quiet and nice because I needed to finish all my writing assignments before end of the year.