Friday, May 25, 2007

office fun in el puerto marina

it took a while for us to plan our summer trip here in the office, but last weekend, it finally pushed through!

el puerto marina resort in lingayen, pangasinan was our destination for the weekend. i had been there before, but there have been a lot of improvements with the resort this time around.

it took us four and a half hours to get there, including a pit stop at luisita mall for those who needed to relieve themselves. while waiting in front of chowking, i saw jollibee step out of his kingdom. of course, a photo op should not be missed.

to get to the resort, you have to pass through plaza de lingayen, where a shrine for jose rizal stands. the public market is across the plaza, and is a great place to get pasalubong for the family. they sell 100 pieces of puto calasiao for P40.

after a few turns on dirt roads (just follow the el puerto marina sign), we saw the resort. our welcome banner confirmed we were in the right place. we got out of our vans to stretch our legs from the drive.

the good people at the resort did not waste any time. lunch was served immediately, leaving us no room to complain of hunger. for our first meal, we had inihaw na liempo, halabos na hipon, inihaw na (boneless) bangus, halaan soup (i LOVED it!), pinakbet, ensaladang mangga, and matamis na saging. there were about three large platters for each dish, and the lot of us had a pretty hard time wolfing everything down.

check-in followed soon after, and we trouped to our designated rooms. every room had a TV, air-conditioning, and hot and cold shower. towels, shampoos, and soaps were provided for each guest. i was dismayed to find the toilet in our room to be quite dirty, though.

after relaxing for a bit, we decided to explore the beach. we didn't find it ideal to hang out there, as the walk from the resort to the beach took quite a while, and the water was pretty shallow. the shore, though, was vast, and made for great goofing around photos. all terrain vehicles can be hired from the resort to explore the beach better.

so we contented ourselves with the pool, which had a kiddie pool-slash-jacuzzi on the side that was big enough to fit about 14 people. saturday afternoon translated to a lot of people, so we had to share the space with others.

it wasn't long before we were called to the pavilion again for merienda. our stomachs had barely digested lunch, and we were faced with huge plates of pansit bihon and mounds of puto calasiao. even though we could all still taste lunch in our mouths, we couldn't help but help ourselves to the gastronomic delights served before us. because of that, i had to ask the staff to move our dinner to 830pm, instead of 7pm, as we had initially agreed upon.

after merienda, some of us took advantage of the resort's spa. since i organized the outing, i got a free massage! the massage was soothing and highly relaxing, which explained the sleepy, drunken looks some of us had at the dinner table.

speaking of dinner, it was another feast yet again. the menu consisted of sinigang na sugpo, adobong talaba (spicy, but i liked it!), inihaw na tilapia (i finished about one and a half), chopsuey, and inihaw na talong. of course, that came with garlic rice, and drinks.

after dinner, i decided to check out the resort's wi-fi access, which is free for all guests. the signal was low, but i still got to check my email. multiply and other sites with images and graphics could not be accessed. we were able to research on wikipedia about the great arapaima, the fish found in the resort's fishpond.

and of course, a few hours later, beers were served. some members of our party had already retired, while a few of us hung out in the pavilion to drink and feast on our dinner leftovers. we had fun eating talaba and tilapia while downing ice-cold beers. mark, our music dude, brought his guitar, and we happily sang along to his strumming.

we walked back to the building at 2am, and we had some frogs to keep us company on the path. i had a hard time sleeping, because the air conditioning was too cold, but the bed was comfortable and firm enough.

the next day saw us enjoying the pool. we had it all to ourselves, as most of the guests had already left. but before that, let me talk about breakfast.

the best thing about el puerto marina is that they never give you a chance to go hungry. that's one thing you will never complain about. breakfast was served and ready at 730. we were served dried pinca (a small swordfish, which is a pangasinan delicacy), daing, longganisa, salted egg and tomatoes, and vegetable omelette.

after that, we enjoyed the pool for the rest of the morning. we captured ourselves in wacky poses, jumping in the pool, splashing around. we all just really had fun that morning, and it was great to have something like that with people you see everyday.

before leaving, we were served one more meal: lunch. as a farewell, we feasted on nilagang baka, fried calamari, crispy shrimp, sweet and spicy tofu with vegetables. stuffing yourself with food is a great way to say goodbye to a place.

the people were friendly, the food was good, and the fun was endless. small wonder that i'm thinking of bringing more people to the resort.

resort details:
el puerto marina beach resort and spa
tel. nos.: manila: 8123388 (look for flor or mildred); pangasinan: (075) 5425328
mobile: 09053212056 (sally fernando); 09209506822 (flor verzosa)

Monday, May 14, 2007

seair and picatoo flying smiles photo contest

here's a photo contest with prizes to die for!

let me begin by telling you what you can win:
1. 2 seair adventure passes. that's 45 days of unlimited flying to any of seair's destinations! (i still have to check if palau is included)
2. a roundtrip ticket for two to boracay, including a 3d, 2n stay at sun village. this prize is valid for one year from date of issue.
3. 5MP fujifilm digicams.

and all you have to do to join is submit great photos of your vacation anytime between may 1 to october 31, 2007. there are actually two categories, the flyseair category, and the smileseair category. the flyseair category is open to seair passengers traveling anytime during the contest duration, while the smileseair category is open to all digital photo enthusiasts.

the smileseair category is further subdivided into:
may to june: daddy and me
july to august: my digital lifestyle
september to october: sizzle in the rain

for full mechanics, just go here.

photos will be displayed on picatoo from november 5 to december 10, 2007. 50% of the score will be determined by the public's votes, and the other half will be dependent on the judges' scores.

visit asia's greatest cities for P999!

once again, cebu pacific is extending a tempting offer so you can go and see asia!

seats to hong kong, singapore, kuala lumpur, bangkok, jakarta, and taipei cost only P999 one way!

i tried booking for seats to hong kong. a roundtrip ticket costs less than P5,000.

now ain't that a good deal? go and plan your trip now!

promo details:

go to cebu pacific to book tickets.
promo runs from may 12 to 18, 2007,
travel anytime between june 18 to october 15, 2007.
tel. no.: 702-0888

Sunday, May 13, 2007

riding the pasig ferry

i always see it whenever i ride the mrt to work. as the train whizzes past guadalupe, i see a tiny station by the river, and i found out that that's the guadalupe station of the pasig ferry.

so one sunday afternoon, susie and i thought, "why not?" and took the train from ayala to guadalupe. we descend the stairs from the train station, and walk under the scorching sun toward the river.

we were greeted by a rather clean, tiny structure, quite a contrast from the filthy river. we pay the P25 that would take us from guadalupe to escolta. the tickets are pretty amusing: a barcode is printed on fax-type paper, and you stick it to the scanner-slash-turnstile. it makes a beeping noise, which means you can safely enter.

we were then led to a short winding "tunnel," which leads to the ferry. as we step into the floating vessel, one of the crewmembers announces, "sa likod lang po tayo, sira po ang aircon!" luckily, there weren't many people on board. we choose a couple of seats by the window, where we can take in the view as we float along.

i look around the ferry. it ain't so bad, i remember thinking to myself. it was clean, which is not something you'd expect from most modes of transportation in the country. what's more, the ferry is equipped with a large flat screen tv in front. all throughout our ride, they played air supply music videos, which suited me just fine.

after a few minutes, we were off. the ferry made a u-turn and we went past the guadalupe bridge, past the large billboard of kobe. after that, the view was mostly made up of assorted shanties.

i make it sound so horrid, but the truth is, i enjoyed the trip. it's sacrilegious to compare it to the ferry ride from kowloon to hong kong island on victoria harbour, because the pasig ferry ride is on a whole other different level.

it gives you a different view on things. the houses that you don't normally see when your bus is hurtling past edsa, the naked children who think nothing of the filth that floats beneath the dark waters, and the rusting barges that float alongside you on the river. it's not a glorious sight, but it's still a fresh perspective.

plus, the ride is so much more calming than getting shaken around as your car criss-crosses its way along edsa. true, the smell is not very desirable (what an understatement!), but you'll get used to it as you coast by shantytown after shantytown.

truth be told, i see a lot of potential in this ferry. i just hope they can do something about the pollution in the water. the ferry itself is great--it's airconditioned, it's clean, and it's quite fast. we were disembarking in escolta after about 45-50 minutes. it's a great alternative to commuting by land or rail--especially when you think about the filthy buses with drivers that seem to believe they're driving kia prides, or the number of people you have to fight off just to get precious space on the train.

as of the moment, there are only a few stations available--guadalupe, hulo, sta. ana, and escolta. but the lambingan and PUP stations are already up. i think they're just trying to further plan out the routes and the schedules.

so next time you want a different kind of adventure, just hop on the ferry. it won't give you a grand, majestic view, but it's an adventure nonetheless.

here are more pasig ferry photos.

more information:
pasig ferry
flat rate: P25.00 per person, one way

Thursday, May 10, 2007

let's break the silence

things have been quiet around here, and for that, i apologize. days have been filled with sooo many things, i've been forgetting to come up for air.

i've yet to post photos of my latest escapade. i went and took the pasig ferry from guadalupe to escolta. :) it was quite an adventure.

i hope your days are going much better. keep checking back, i'll be updating soon!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

avenue q in august!

avenue q fans will be delighted to know that atlantis productions will be bringing this hilarious play on the philippine stage!

if things go swimmingly, we'll soon be singing along to "the internet is for porn" live!

direction: bobby garcia and chari arespacochaga
set design: mio infante
lighting design: jay aranda
puppet design: joji pamintuan

event details:
avenue q
tentative date: august 17, 2007
atlantis productions
tel. nos.: 892-7078; 840-1187