Thursday, December 31, 2009

philippine holidays for 2010

thanks to ivan henares, we can now plan our vacations for next year! check out the following philippine holidays in 2010:
  • february 23, monday - anniversary of the edsa revolution
  • april 1, thursday - maundy thursday
  • april 2, friday - good friday
  • april 9, friday - araw ng kagitingan
  • june 14, monday - independence day (long weekend, since june 12 is a saturday)
  • august 23, monday - ninoy aquino day
  • august 30, monday - national heroes' day
  • september 10, friday - eid al fitr (tentative date)
  • november 1, monday - all saints' day
  • november 29, monday - bonifacio day (in lieu of november 30)
  • december 24, friday - christmas eve
  • december 27, monday - rizal day (in lieu of december 30)
plenty of monday and friday holidays, which means a lot of long weekends again for us! :) hope your 2010 will be filled with travel and vacations!

Monday, December 28, 2009

happy holidays from i gotta go!

i know, i missed christmas and wasn't able to greet you guys, but i'm sure your christmas was filled with a lot of cheer, great food, and that warm fuzzy feeling of being with your most beloved ones. :)

2009 wasn't the best year for most of us, what with ondoy, pepeng, and the mayon eruption rocking our already stressful lives. yet those of us who have lived through them definitely have a lot to be thankful for, and i think that's the most important message this year has for us.

here's hoping that in 2010, there'll be less calamities, and more time for doing the things that we want. may the coming year be filled with travel, adventures, and discoveries for everyone. :)

i'm cooking up some new stuff for i gotta go!, and i'm hoping that you guys will stick around for them. i'm really, really hoping that i get to travel more and write more about the places i discover.

farewell, 2009.

mabuhay, 2010! :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

cebu for a day

susie and i finally settled on a cebu day trip, since neither of us could be away for the whole weekend. it was a getaway that we both badly needed.

we were desperate for a vacation, and i had a couple of free tickets from cebu pacific that were about to expire. this was the best way we could think of to take advantage of them.

and i'm glad that we went through with it, because that saturday was a blast.

parking at NAIA terminal 3
we decided to take the car and park it somewhere since we were just going to be gone for the day. we thought of using park & fly, but after hearing a lot of bad reviews, we opted for the NAIA terminal 3 parking, which was actually pretty good!

NAIA terminal 3 parking rates are at P30 for the day, and P50 for overnight parking. what's more, the arrivals gate is just a short walk away. when we came back, the car was still in good condition, which means parking is pretty safe, too. it's a good alternative for travelers who need a place to park their car.

we entered the airport, found our check-in counter, and had breakfast upstairs before going inside the departure lounge for our gate. terminal fee is at P200, and there are plenty of places to buy food from.

arriving in cebu
we arrived in cebu a few minutes ahead of schedule. while waiting at baggage claim, i decided to go up to the shangri-la mactan resort stall in the cebu airport. i asked about their day rate, and it was nice to know that the rate hasn't changed: it's still P2,000 for the day, which already includes access to the beach and the resort's amenities, buffet lunch at tides, towel, and a P200 discount off health club services.

it was a pretty sweet deal--exactly what we came for. i told the shangri-la representative that we'll be taking that day package, and he told me we could join the shuttle bus that would take us to the resort after we pick up our luggage.

the shuttle bus service is free for all shangri-la mactan clients, and the ride from the airport to the resort took all of 10 minutes. we were welcomed by friendly shangri-la representatives--all smiling and courteous.

to avail of the day rate of shangri-la mactan cebu, just go to the senses store, pay your P2,000, and get your day access tag. it's a bright blue tag that has the "tickets" to everything you're entitled to: lunch buffet at tides, towel, and health club discount.

since we didn't have a room, i decided to avail of the P200 discount on health club services and get myself a locker, which normally costs P500. aside from a locker, you also get a bath towel, face towel, and slippers, as well as be given access to the jacuzzi, sauna, and shower room. the locker room has a hair dryer, lotion, and other toiletries you might need.

now, on to the beach!
with those things out of the way, we headed to the beach. since we were there early, there were only a few people enjoying the morning sun, and we got ourselves prime lounge chairs that were just a few steps away from the water.

we decided to just lounge around and wait for the tide to come in. but susie had other things on his mind. he went up to the buko bar and got a couple of beers for us, to celebrate the first getaway we've had in months. we must have really enjoyed ourselves a lot, because we were able to down 4 bottles each before 11am.

in between beers, we would take a dip, or feed the fish (from the leftover bread at tides), or take in the sun--a lovely way to spend a day away from busy, mad manila. i was finally getting started on the tan that i've lost from being away from the sea for a year.

tides buffet
before we knew it, it was lunch time. we headed to tides, still a bit giddy from the beers and the beach. we were greeted by another of their friendly staff, who led us to a table and served us water while we waited for the buffet to open.

the selection wasn't as extensive as the last time i was there, but it was definitely good enough to fill a rumbling tummy. susie feasted on the seafood, while i got a lot of cold cuts and cheese. we ended the glutton-fest with chocolate fondue--dipping slices of mango and bits of marshmallow in yummy milk chocolate. coffee and tea are also served after the meal.

beach lounging
and after that, we were back in our lounge chairs, which were dutifully "guarded" by the staff at the buko bar, who had become our buddies because of our beerfest earlier. they asked if we wanted more beer, but we had to decline, as we were still full from lunch.

i ended up dozing off for about half an hour, safely shaded by the huge beach umbrella. the rest of the afternoon was spent taking in the cebu sun (to achieve the desired tan), splashing in the water, or just plain talking and laughing (something we hadn't done in a while!). when the sun was at its hottest, one of the shangri-la mactan staff came up to us and offered wet face towels to cool our faces off with. such simple yet attentive service really made the day even more enjoyable.

we decided to call it a day a little before 5pm. we headed off to the health club to shower, but not before bidding goodbye to the staff at the buko bar. they're one of the friendliest hotel staff i've ever come across with--friendly, attentive, yet not stifling. i will definitely be back because i felt like i was taken care of.

the fun continues
while i expected to be out of shangri-la mactan after showering, susie and i decided to walk around the hotel and check out its little nooks and crannies. we ended up having our photos taken by the christmas tree out front, then checking out the bazaar that they had that weekend. afterwards, we walked back to the direction of the health club and checked out the e-zone, their game room which had internet stations, billiard tables, a corner for playing wii games, and their own timezone.

susie and i decided to burn that heavy lunch off by playing half an hour of wii (for P200 pesos, i think). i was defeated repeatedly at tennis, but i dominated in bowling. i did get hungry after that, and decided to head to cebu's center and devour some larsian noms.

it wasn't such a practical option, and i'm kind of regretting getting out of mactan that day. we could have easily walked out of the hotel and enjoyed some tapas at the spanish bar right outside, but i had to insist on going to larsian, which was a P200 taxi ride away.

but this is not to say that i didn't enjoy my meal. i did, a lot, but would have enjoyed it more if i didn't have to pay P200 for the cab ride. i'm kuripot that way. :p

still, all in all, the cebu trip was a huge success, even if it was just for a day. a day spent on the beach is always a great day for me!

travel information
shangri-la mactan resort and spa cebu
punta engano road, lapu-lapu, cebu
phone number: +63 32 2310288
day rate: P2,000 inclusive of towel, access to hotel facilities, buffet lunch at tides, and P200 off health club services

more photos of our cebu day trip
.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

world pyro olympics 2009

i haven't gone to any of the past pyro olympics at MOA, even though i'm one of those people who turn back into a little child whenever i'm faced with fantastic fireworks. i was put off by the stories i heard from the traffic that jammed the exits when the show was over. but maybe this year, since they're moving the venue to bonifacio global city in taguig, i just might find myself trooping over and being one of the open-mouthed marvelers at the event.

what's also pretty exciting is that this year's pyro olympics will feature the first pyromusical competition, which will probably be more amazing to watch.

VIP tickets are pretty steep--P1,500/per person, but it already includes dinner, which is the only thing that separates you from the special ticket holders, who will only need to pay P500. general admission goes for P200. the site says there will be enough booths that sell food and drinks, so nobody will go hungry during the pyro olympics.

for those who plan to watch all five days, there's a special season pass for special and VIP areas. the special season pass sells for P2,000, while the VIP season pass is at P6,000. that's 5 shows for the price of 4! no pyro addict will be able to resist, methinks.

event details:
world pyro olympics 2009
where: the fort open grounds, bonifacio global city, taguig
when: nov 21, nov 28, dec 5, dec 12, dec 19
gates open at 3pm, fireworks start at 630pm
drum&bugle competition is from 3pm to 630pm
tickets: general: P200, special: P500, VIP: P1,500 (includes dinner)
season pass (5 shows for the price of 4): special: P2,000, VIP: P6,000

special and VIP tickets can be reserved as early as now!
contact world wide womb at (02) 568-6908 or (02) 384-0239

CCP holiday events for 2009

there's something in the air this year. i can feel that christmas is going to be merry. reading about these performances at the CCP is making me more excited about the holidays!

"the nutcracker"
ballet philippines

when: december 3, 6, 12, and 13 at 10am and 3pm; december 4 and 5 at 3pm and 8pm
where: tanghalang nicanor abelardo (CCP main theater)
tickets: P300, P350, P450, P500, and P600. P1,100 for gala shows
check ticketworld for tickets to ballet philippines's "the nutcracker."

PPO season concert IV
philippine philharmonic orchestra
conductor: ruggero barbieri

featuring traditional christmas carols.
when: december 10, 8pm
where: tanghalang nicanor abelardo (CCP main theater)
tickets: P206, P360.50, P515, P686.67, P824, P858.34, and P1,030.
check ticketworld for tickets to PPO season concert IV.

"thankful"
the philippine madrigal singers

the philippine madrigal singers' thanksgiving concert for a fruitful year. christmas songs, carols, and other inspirational songs are in store.
when: december 15 and 16, 8pm
where: tanghalang nicanor abelardo (CCP main theater)
call these numbers to inquire about tickets: (02) 832- 1125 to 39, (02) 832-3667

let's soak up some culture at the ccp this holiday season!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

my epassport arrived last week! :)

i am now the proud holder of a philippine epassport! :)
it arrived last thursday, right on schedule.

it looks just like the machine-readable passport, except it has an epassport logo right below "pasaporte."

the cover is made of pretty thick cardboard, and on the back, it says "this passport contains sensitive electronics. please do not bend, perforate, or expose this passport to extreme temperature or excess moisture."

i can't wait to use it! i wonder if it's true that going through immigration is faster with a philippine epassport?

Monday, October 26, 2009

tagaytay pig-out sunday: verbena, sonya's garden, and bag of beans

we decided to go for a quick drive to tagaytay yesterday to have lunch and just get a whiff of non-manila air. we finally got to eat in verbena at discovery country suites, then go for a walk around sonya's garden, and top the day off with apple pie a la mode at bag of beans.

first stop: verbena at discovery country suites
susie and i have always wanted to try the food there, since we've read a lot of good things about the place. but whenever we're in tagaytay, we always end up eating somewhere else. this time, though, we weren't going to let anything get in the way between us and verbena.

service at verbena is wonderful: we were greeted courteously by the guard as we parked, opening the car door for me, and asking us how he could be of assistance. he ushered us into the cozy country-home style interiors, where a friendly waiter was waiting to accommodate us.

tagaytay was especially hot yesterday, and i was at first disappointed that the restaurant was only fan-cooled. but after a while (and a few sips of beer), i started to cool off while enjoying the view from my side of the table (pictured above).

after browsing through the verbena menu, susie and i settled on the organic mozzarella cheese pot for our appetizer, with additional cream of asparagus for susie. i initially wanted the oysters, but the waiter told us they were all out. for the main dish, susie chose the pork chop, and i decided to go for the burger.

everything we had was just wonderful, including the two complimentary dishes that the chef sent out for us. the first one was an appetizer that was sort of like a breaded deviled egg, and the other complimentary dish was our chocolate dessert, which susie ended up finishing almost by himself.

i feel a bit ashamed because i wasn't able to finish my burger, even though it was really good! i'm really not used to eating a lot of bread before a heavy meal. but i resolve to make it up to verbena by going back and eating there again. susie was also delighted with his pork chop, and he even asked the waiter to tell the chef that his dish was fantastic.

next: sonya's garden
i've never been to sonya's garden EVAR, so we thought this might be a good time to check out the place. after all, we needed to walk the bloated feeling out, and a nice romp in a garden might help with that.

we enjoyed walking along the brick-lined paths and discovering huts and pavilions througout the place. the property was huge that you just end up stumbling into sprawling dining halls and cozy nooks wherever you go. i had so much fun taking photos of the place.

we were also able to check out the country store, where i got oatmeal soap and honey facial soap for P50 each. there was a coffee table book about sonya's garden being sold as well.

after taking a lot of pictures and exhausting all the brick-lined avenues on-site, we left sonya's and drove to...

bag of beans for dessert
i've been having major apple pie cravings for the past few weeks, and i wasn't going to leave tagaytay without having bag of beans's apple pie a la mode. susie couldn't believe that i could already eat something so heavy after the feast we just had. that's just how i roll, i guess.

the apple pie hit the spot. very filling. the crust was yummy, and the mix of cinnamon and apple was just perfect. *sigh* i'll be back there again for another serving, that's for sure!

take a look at more photos of our tagaytay sunday getaway.

contact information:
restaurant verbena at discovery country suites
address: 300 calamba road, san jose, tagaytay city
phone number: (046) 4132540
mobile number: +63915172150
email address: rsvn@discovery.com.ph
take a look at restaurant verbena's menu

sonya's garden
address: barangay buck estate, alfonso, cavite
mobile numbers: +639175329097 or +639175335140
email address: info@sonyasgarden.com

bag of beans tagaytay
address: 115 aguinaldo highway, mendez crossing west, tagaytay city
phone numbers: (046) 413 4356; (046) 413 2724
mobile numbers:+63923 454 4797; +63920 954 6370
email address: bagofbeanscoffeeshop@yahoo.com

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

the epassport renewal experience: phase 2

i had high hopes when i went to the DFA today for my epassport renewal, since i've been reading so many good things about the efficiency of the process.

unfortunately, i didn't have as easy a time as everyone else. the passport renewal process started out well, actually. i got to the DFA, was bugged by some touts, who were actually successful in getting me to go to a stall, because they insisted i needed to put my fingerprints on my application form. well, as it turns out, they were mistaken, so i left the stall in a huff, while they all tried to apologize and pass the blame on each other. like everybody says, ignore anybody who tells you to go to the stalls beside the gate.

epassport applicants should enter through gate 3 and go straight to counter 28 (actually, counters 26-28 are all dedicated to epassport applicants) the line here wasn't long at all, and the people behind the counter worked really fast. this is where you submit your requirements, which are:
  • your old passport
  • a photocopy of the data page of your old passport
  • a photocopy of the last exit and entry stamp on your passport (this is not necessarily the last stamped page, so check to make sure you've photocopied the page with your last entry stamp)
  • a photocopy of the inside back cover of your old passport
  • filled-in application form (for epassport applicants, no need to affix a photo and put your fingerprints)
  • a printout of your epassport appointment email
after checking your information, they will issue a receipt that reflects the amount you will pay for your passport. regular processing costs Php 950, and will be done in 10 days, while express processing costs Php 1,200, and only takes 5 working days. also take note of the date your passport will be ready for pick-up. these dates are posted on the counter. take your receipt and documents and proceed to the cashier, which is outside the counters. no lines there, either. pay, get your receipt, and proceed to the second floor for picture-taking, and information encoding.

i arrived at the DFA at about 1250pm, and i was lining up to have my photo taken at 105pm. which meant the entire process downstairs took all of 15 minutes. i was counting on being out by 130 or 145pm at the latest, considering the speed at which they handled the first part of the process.

well, they quickly made up for this efficiency by making us epassport applicants wait for more than an hour to have our photos taken. when i got to the second floor, i was given a number, and told to take a seat. the waiting area snaked around the corner of the narrow hallway, and there were people seated, waiting impatiently for their turn. not all of us were epassport applicants, though. some of them, from what i heard, encountered some problems with their passport application, and they were being handled by another office.

as for us epassport applicants, we were being called four at a time. when i took a seat, the last number called was 17, and i was number 28. 11 people ahead of me wasn't so bad.

or so i thought. numbers 28-31 were called at around 2pm, and we were made to wait an additional 15 minutes to be accommodated in the room where they took our biometrics information and our photo. we soon found out what was causing the delay: it seems that with every batch of four numbers, someone from the inside, one of the people processing our information, would take "sponsored singit" applicants and accommodate them as well. no wonder this process was taking so long!

taking your photo and biometrics information and encoding your personal details probably took 5 minutes per person, which includes verification of details. they ask you to check the information they've entered, and sign to verify that the information was correct. you leave all your other documents here, and take your receipt for when you come back to pick up your passport.

but since i didn't want to go anywhere near the DFA anytime soon after this experience, i asked around for courier services who can deliver my passport to me instead. if you also want to avail of this service, just go to the basketball court (ask around), and all the courier companies are there. i opted for 2go-pilipinas teleserve, which charged P99 per delivery. you will have to leave your receipt with them, so that they can claim your passport on your behalf.

i was finally able to leave the DFA at 3pm, a bit lethargic from all that waiting. i even looked lethargic in my passport photo, something i have to live with for a few years until i have to go and renew my passport all over again. i'm just hoping i don't have to endure another 2 hours of this. please, DFA, try to figure out a better way to accommodate epassport renewals!

i'm angus steakhouse special nights


susie and i, on a whim, decided to finally check out i'm angus steakhouse in yakal street last night. i'm happy to say that the experience was unforgettable, in a VERY good way. the staff were courteous and accommodating, and the food was oh-so-delicious. it's definitely not cheap, but if you're looking for a fancy place to treat that special someone, then i would suggest taking them to i'm angus.

susie ordered the tenderloin, if i remember correctly, and had it done rare. i, on the other hand, felt particularly full, and decided to just opt for the salmon. every entree is served with a choice of siding, and sauce. silly us forgot all about the sauce and started digging in. the steak and the salmon both were very good despite us having forgotten to sauce 'em up. :)

we also got invited to a couple of their events, which is open to everyone (that's why i thought i'd post it here and invite all of you as well!).

every wednesday night, i'm angus steakhouse will be serving roasted US certified angus prime rib of beef with salad, baked potato, and your choice of sauce, along with a glass of argentinean wine for just Php 980 net. that's a full meal with delectable beef at less than a thousand bucks!

even though we just came from there last night, susie and i were actually thinking of going again tonight to try out this meal. we'll have to see if we can handle it, though. :)

the other event is the i'm angus steakhouse country night, set for october 29, 2009, starting at 7pm. this is a buffet-style scheme, where you can have your fill of:

appetizers
caesar salad station
coleslaw
couscous salad
wild rice and chicken salad
pickled shrimps
atlantic crab cake
chilli dip cornbread
sourdough bread

from the steaming kettle
chili con carne
jambalaya creole style
spicy ranch beans
baked beans
mushroom stew
kentucky style fried chicken
baked potatoes
fries

from the grill
bbq pork spareribs
beef short ribs
steakhouse steak with fried onion slivers

roasts
bbq roasted US beef brisket and beef shoulder
roasted US CAB prime rib
chili and tomato salsa
mango and red onion salsa
bbq sauce
black bean and corn salsa

sweets
strawberry pie
lemon meringue pie
brownies
pecan pie
homemade ice cream

and what's more, i'm angus steakhouse is also opening their cellar and giving you a chance to try out selected argentinean and chilean wines:

finca flinchman
misterio chardonnay
misterio cabernet sauvignon
misterio malbec
gestos caberet sauvignon
vina ventisquero
cabernet sauvignon reserva
carmenere reserva
merlot reserva
sauvignon blanc reserva

no other meals will be served on country night, and this one-of-a-kind treat costs Php 2,500 net per person. it's a bit too steep for the likes of me, but if you're a wine and meat lover, you're definitely going to enjoy this night. :)

restaurant information
i'm angus steakhouse
address: 7431 yakal street, san antonio village, makati
phone number: 8926206
fax number: 8931573
email address: wic@werdenberg.com

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

update on my passport renewal

well, i got a reply from the dfa, and i have my appointment for my epassport renewal tomorrow. :) it means i won't have to have my picture taken anymore, since they will be taking my photo and biometrics information tomorrow.

wish me luck! i really hope everything is as smooth as everybody says it is.

new link for passport renewal online appointment system

okay, so i've been using the old passport renewal online appointment link, and finally found the updated version:

http://dfa.gov.ph/form/make/make/make_a_selection.html

that link will take you here:


i just called the DFA, and i was told that my appointment tomorrow was for a machine readable passport. i requested that my appointment be changed to the epassport, and rio, the lady i talked to on the phone, told me that it's possible to have it changed. :) as instructed, i was told to reply to the email that they sent, and i'm hoping to get a reply within the day.

here we go!

the passport renewal experience: phase 1

my passport expires may 2010, but since most countries require that you should have a 6-month validity on your passport when you travel, my current, and most beloved, passport is as good as useless. so i quit putting it off and finally went to the dfa passport application online appointment system last night and get a move on in renewing my passport. the page looks like this:


but when you click on submit, you won't be taken to any confirmation page that indicates that your request has been submitted. instead, you will be taken to the passports information page of the dfa, which outlines the requirements that you need to bring with you on the day of your appointment. don't be alarmed if this happens, it doesn't mean they didn't receive it, it just means that the dfa needs to be more user-friendly and let us know that our form was indeed submitted, and not just floating around in cyberspace.

a few minutes later, i checked my email, and there i read the confirmation. this means you have to be careful in filling in your email address in the form above, since that's the only way they will contact you (i received no confirmation or information on my mobile phone, even though i put that in as my contact number as well). the email told me that i will have to wait about 7 days to receive my passport appointment, so i slept soundly last night, knowing my appointment will come in a week or less.

today, i got to work and checked my email. lo and behold! i got an email from the DFA saying that i have an appointment for my passport renewal tomorrow! that was quick, but a little short notice. still, i'll take it. it's probably one of the fastest government office appointments evar, and i'm not going to let that pass me by!

i'm just a bit confused, though. the email today addressed me as "machine readable passport applicant," but at the end of the email, it cited the epassport processing fees (P950 for regular processing, P1,200 for expedited processing) instead of the machine readable one. i'm really hoping to get the epassport and not the machine readable version, but just to be safe, i'll be taking the requirements needed for both. a bit of a hassle, but better than being turned away and wasting a day.

so tomorrow, i'll be taking with me the following requirements for passport renewal:
  • my present passport, and photocopy of data page, and pages 1, 2, and 3, and the inside back cover
  • photocopy of the pages showing latest bureau of immigration departure and arrival stamps
  • three (3) colored photos taken against a royal blue background and no shadow. (must remember to wear a dark top with sleeves and collar)
  • a duly accomplished passport renewal application form
  • print-out of my appointment
  • valid ID
  • P950 epassport fee, or P1,200 for expedited processing, in case i decide to fast-track the process
let's see how this "adventure" turns out tomorrow. i've read a lot of good things about the dfa's passport renewal system, and i'm hoping i'm one of the lucky ones who won't encounter hassles during my passport renewal.

you can also read more about passport renewal at just wandering. :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

typhoon ondoy: how you can help

my family and i are fortunate that we got through typhoon ondoy unscathed. sure, water reached our house, and slightly damaged our car, but it's nothing compared to what others are going through at the moment. and i'm thankful for coming out of this tragedy unscathed, and to show my gratitude, i'm doing whatever i can to help.

so far, i've rummaged through my closet for clothes i want to donate, urged my sisters to do the same, and we've dropped them off at designated relief centers near us. to me, it doesn't matter where you choose to give them, as long as it's a group that means to help, then i'm good with that.

i also did some grocery shopping for instant noodles and drinks to help feed the growing number of victims. i dipped into my travel funds to add to my donations. at the moment, traveling is but a mere luxury, completely irrelevant during these trying times.

but i still feel like i haven't done enough. i'm starting to feel a little helpless. there are still so many people who need to be rescued, who need to be fed and clothed, and if you want to help out, too, here are different ways you can reach out:

help for missionaries of charity tondo
they need food, water, and baby food and milk for the children.
you can get in touch with rea at 0917 850 5766 or landline 215 6976.

myayala ondoy online donation facility

this is a very convenient way of donating money for the victims of ondoy.
no need to get out of the house, or go to the grocery.

database of drop-off centers for donations
if you have clothes, food, and other relief goods to donate, find out where the nearest drop-off points are.

help for typhoon ondoy victims
a google page of consolidated information, from rescue hotlines, to bank donations, to volunteer centers.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

película: the 8th spanish film festival

more films are set to come your way next week, as instituto cervantes unveils the biggest película spanish film festival yet.

this year,
película pelikula will show films in three different venues:

greenbelt 3 cinemas play host to 21 recent and awarded spanish and latin american films. admission is P65. check the pel
ícula screening schedule for greenbelt 3.

the CCP, meanwhile, will be showing 12 spanish and filipino documentaries. check the pel
ícula screening schedules for CCP.

finally, the college of saint benilde-school of design and arts will have two different sets of screenings, the first being "cine en construccion," where viewers can watch 5 different indie films from latin american countries. the other set of films are dubbed "spanish cinema in 8 films," and features 8 classic films, perfect for students who want to see the progression of spanish cinema. admission is also free. check the pel
ícula screening schedules for CSB school of design and arts.

there will also be exhibits, workshops, and performances, so just check the pel
ícula website, which also features trailers of the films and event schedules.

Friday, September 18, 2009

taking a walk in makati

i've always liked walking, even in the streets of manila. somehow, the perils of such thin and unwalkable sidewalks and the dirt and grime that threaten to cover my feet haven't succeeded in dissuading me from using my feet to get around.

during the august 21 long weekend, i found myself without plans to go out of town, so i thought, "why not just explore and try something new?" so from work, i took the MRT and got off at the buendia station, which is just a few meters away from jupiter. from there, i let my feet take me places.

my first stop was o'sonho, this new portuguese restaurant along jupiter, makati that i've always wanted to try. service wasn't all that great, though. i walked into the restaurant, and no one was there to greet me or to tell me if there was still a table available. i still had to walk up to the counter and ask for the menu before i was offered a seat.

i decided to try out their salmon (that's all it was called--no fancy names for this resto, i guess):
salmon in o'sonho

it was just okay. the sauce was sweet and made it taste different, but the rice was meh. i don't think i'll be going back here any time soon. there just wasn't anything about the dish that was spectacular.

after dinner, i kept on walking, and decided to stop off at off-price, a large clothing store, still on jupiter street in makati:
off-price in jupiter

they had a lot of clothes, and they were pretty cheap, too. unfortunately, nothing specific caught my fancy, but i'll check it out again.

i get out of the store, and keep walking. soon, i end up at max's, and decide to confirm one thing. i go up to the facade and true enough, there was a small plaque that confirmed that the irish consulate was indeed, holding office above max's restaurant:


after that, i walked to makati avenue, then took a right at h.v. dela costa street, turned left at tordesillas, then passed through the park, and eventually ended up on l.p. leviste street.

one lafayette square, the building that houses the restaurant apartment1b, is also home to a new terry's deli and bistro, which looks pretty fancy. susie and i went there last week, and i went home happy after having my tortilla de pamplona.

also along l. p. leviste street is gonzo's, which replaced oliver's. the friendly waiter was handing out menus that night, and the offerings are pretty tempting, and well-priced, too!

my last stop for the night was tonton massage, which was actually the whole point of my "journey." i decided to treat myself to a one-hour full body massage. while i have always enjoyed my tonton massages, that night, it didn't go so well. i had a feeling the masseuse was already tired, from what i gathered of the quality of massage that i got. next time, i should just opt for the foot massage. that always hits the spot.

this weekend is another long one, but the weather's not being cooperative enough for a walk. but when i do get a chance, i'll walk again, and share my discoveries with you once more.

Friday, September 11, 2009

cine europa '09 at shang cineplex

i can't believe it's time for cine europa again. :) i missed last year's screenings, but i'm hoping i can catch at least one film in this year's line-up, specifically the demons of st. petersburg.

this year's batch of films are an assortment of genres, running the gamut of family entertainment, horror/thriller, drama, romantic comedy, and war/action. it's a pretty promising line-up.

if you have nothing to do this weekend, troop over to shangri-la mall cineplex, queue up for your free ticket, and watch a film at cine europa. just click on the link below to access the schedules and synopsis:

cine europa '09 line-up and schedule
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Monday, August 31, 2009

are you ready for the 20th philippine travel mart?

i hope you haven't finished off all your moolah this long weekend, because the 20th philippine travel mart will be offering irresistible travel deals!

from what i hear, SEAir will be offering buy one, take one tickets to batanes, and round-trip airfare of P3,500 to boracay.

and that's just one airline! who knows what other offers you will find at this year's philippine travel mart?

i'm definitely going! i missed last year's philippine travel mart, but i'm not going to let this one pass me by.

photo from byahilo.

event information
20th philippine travel mart
dates: september 4-6, 2009, 10am-6pm
venue: sm megatrade halls 1-3, building b, sm megamall

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

three ways to renew your philippine passport

my passport will be expiring in may 2010, and while i know that i can renew my passport through passport direct, i still thought i'd check the DFA website in case they had updates on new passport renewal procedures.

and i found out that they actually do! aside from passport direct, which partners up with 2go for the courier service, now, we pinoys can also renew our passports by telephone and using the DFA appointment system.

let me go through the different ways one can renew passports in good ol' philippines:

#1: passport direct
passport direct accepts new applications and renewals. you first have to fill up their passport application form, where you fill in important personal information as well as the pick-up and delivery address of your passport. you can also input your desired pick-up schedule and personal appearance schedule at the DFA.

the passport direct website also has a list of requirements for passport renewals. for the benefit of those who, like me, are still holding their green passports, our renewal requirements are as follows:
  • Personal Appearance is required.
  • Present passport and photocopy of pages 1,2,3 (amendment) inside and back cover.
  • The pages showing latest Bureau of Immigration departure and arrival stamps.
  • For illegitimate minor, personal appearance of mother is required.
  • Three (3) colored photos of the applicant taken against a royal blue background & no shadow. Applicant should be in decent attire with collar & sleeves and in dark-colored shirt. Photo must be studio taken & of good quality, and must have been taken within the last six (6) months. Photo size: 4.5 cm x 3.5 cm. Facial image size: About 3cm-tip of head to chin. Ears should be visible. Wearing of accessories, colored contact lenses or eyeglasses, with name/name board are not allowed. DFA has the right to reject photos that do not comply with specifications and international standards.
renewing passports through passport direct costs Php 1,300.00, and takes about 3 weeks.

#2: telephone passport express
the website says "fast, efficient, and convenient way of processing passport while making use of quality time." because you don't need to go to the DFA, but you do need to personally appear at the DFA Telephone Passport Express Center on your scheduled date.

telephone passport express is a service provided by LBC. you just have to call up their hotline, (02) 567-1111 to get the list of requirements. afterwards, download the passport application form which has a logo of telephone passport express and lbc (these details are important!), print it on long bond paper, and fill it up.

when all that is done, you then have to go to the nearest LBC branch or telephone passport express center to submit your documents for screening and evaluation. this is also where you pay the fee of P1,300.00, which includes shipping of your passport to the address you provided. oh, and you have to wait for them to give you your schedule for fingerprinting and signing.

just go to any telephone passport express center on the day of your schedule, do the fingerprinting and signing. your passport will just be delivered to you via LBC.

#3: dfa online appointment system
starting august 26 of this year, the dfa will be implementing an online appointment procedure for passport renewals, for issuance of the new epassport (as opposed to the machine readable ones, or new passport version 1.0). but since the system is new, they can only accommodate 100 epassport applicants per day.

to renew your passport through this system, go to the dfa passport application appointment system, click on the epassport photo, fill up the form, then click submit. check your inbox for their email indicating your appointment date, and confirm your availability. make sure to note down the date, time, and reference number given in the email.

on the date of your appointment, proceed to the special area for online appointment applicants with your requirements. according to the dfa, these are the requirements:
  • old passport with one photocopy of old passport data page
  • a valid ID
  • duly accomplished passport application form
  • Php 950 passport fee
after reading about all those three ways to renew my passport, i think i'm going to try the last option. i've heard some not-so-good feedback about passport direct from friends who've renewed this year, and the telephone passport express actually sounds too tedious. the last option is pretty interesting--everything is done online, which is a great leap for a government office, and i want to see how they would do it. plus, the dfa online appointment system is much cheaper than the first two options, which is always a plus for me!

on another note, the new epassport, i've been told, actually emits RFID signals, which makes your information vulnerable to hacking or being stolen. i'm still trying to find the right RFID blocking passport cover, and i'm not happy with the ones i've seen online. it helps to safeguard your information, so make sure that once you renew your passport, you secure it right away.

hope this blog helps those who are confused about renewing our philippine passports. :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

where can you go with your philippine passport?

expensive visa application fees and visa denial nightmares have been part and parcel of the travel tales of those of us who hold a philippine passport.

but a little trawling online showed me a list of countries where we philippine passport-holders can travel visa-free (some places issue the visa upon arrival, though).

at the moment, your philippine passport can take you to:

africa
  • burundi
  • cape verde
  • comoros
  • djibouti
  • egypt (south sinai only)
  • gambia
  • kenya
  • madagascar
  • morocco
  • mozambique
  • saint helena
  • seychelles
  • tanzania
  • togo
  • uganda
  • zambia
asia-asean
  • brunei darussalam
  • cambodia
  • indonesia
  • laos
  • malaysia
  • singapore
  • thailand
  • vietnam
asia-non-asean
  • armenia
  • azerbaijan
  • bangladesh
  • georgia
  • hong kong
  • iran
  • israel
  • south korea (jeju island only)
  • macau
  • maldives
  • mongolia
  • nepal
  • sri lanka
  • timor-leste
europe
  • kosovo
oceania
  • cook islands
  • fiji
  • marshall islands
  • federated states of micronesia
  • niue
  • palau
  • samoa
  • tuvalu
  • vanuatu
north america
  • bermuda
  • costa rica
  • dominica
  • haiti
  • nicaragua
  • saint kitts and nevis
  • saint lucia
  • saint vincent and the grenadines
  • turks and caicos islands
south america
  • bolivia
  • brazil
  • colombia
  • ecuador
  • peru
  • suriname
quite a long list, isn't it? :) (let's just not compare it with the list of other countries) i was pleasantly surprised myself, especially after seeing fiji and brazil in there.

gotta get a move in renewing my passport then! :D

Sunday, August 16, 2009

remembering madrid

memories of my trip to spain have been buried in piles of work emails, appointments, and manila annoyances. this weekend, however, i was able to get some time on my hands, and i happened to check back on my europe files. i found this:




this was the moment when the reality of being in europe hit me--pigeons and tourists everywhere, i was sitting on cobblestones, and accordion music can be heard in the distance. i shot this in madrid's plaza mayor, and the view that i lingered on is the casa de la panaderia.

i wanna go back. *nostalgic smile*

Monday, August 10, 2009

a national museum tour in remembrance of cory aquino

less than a year ago, i got to go on a national museum tour conducted by its curator, john silva. now, he has another theme for the tour, and it's entitled "origins of her faith, courage, and love of country."

now, i'm not a big fan of cory as a president, but i do admire the kind of person that she is. and maybe, just maybe, knowing these origins might keep the flame of hope alive. it's so easy to extinguish it, but i do feel that people are starting to feel the need to change. and anything that can get people to keep wanting to do something about our problems is okay by me. :)

so if you have some spare time, do join the tour. the insights on the country's art and history are well worth it.




tour information:
tour of the national museum: origins of her faith, courage, and love of country
dates: aug. 8, 12, 15, 19, 22, 26, 29
sept. 2, 5, 9, 12, 16, 19, 23, 26, 30
time: 10am
venue: museum of the filipino people
fee: Php500 (18 years and below), Php 800 for adults
for reservations, please contact John Silva at 0926-7299029, 09174195928, or jsilva79@mac.com

ukay finds from ortigas and shaw


saturday's ukay shopping trip was a success! koryn and i met in robinson's galleria, and used the pink and blue walkway to cross to the POEA side of EDSA. the ukay store was on sale, and they had so many bags and tops that it took koryn and i about 3 hours before we finally went up to the cashier and declare the store thoroughly "ukayed."

i got really lucky with their selection of tops, and brought home 7 from this store alone, with sleeveless tops priced at P100, and sleeved ones at P115. i tried rummaging through their jackets and coats racks, but wasn't lucky enough to find myself a good rain or trench coat.

then koryn and i took the bus (we were too tired to walk, and the sun was fierce that day) to crossing, where we first had merienda, then went back out for ukay shopping session parte dos. we found a small ukay store along shaw boulevard, which had racks that sold items at 3 for 100, P45, P50, and P60. koryn was able to go home with a nice coat/cardigan from there for P50.

our last stop for the day was UK fashion house (o, di ba? fancyyy!), where i got myself a black cotton top for P90. i also found a shoulder bag for P450, but thought twice since some parts of it were already peeling off.

so i went home spending just P820 on my finds: 5 sleeveless tops at P100 each, 1 shirt for P115, the skull sweatshirt for P115 as well, and the P90 UK fashion house top. my budget for the day was P1,000, so i was really happy to get 8 items for less than that. next time, i'll shop for bottoms and upgrade that part of my wardrobe.

i also read online that there are ukay stores on guadalupe, and i'll make that my next ukay shopping target. will let you know how it goes! :)