Blast from the Past: Visiting Leyte

PauTravels to Leyte Island

Like what I’ve posted last week about my trip to Bicol, here I’m going to share about my very first trip on board an airplane.  This was a trip back in June of 1999 to my father’s home province in the Visayas region on the island of Leyte.

My father along with his siblings were all born in the small town of Tabontabon in the province of Leyte in Eastern Visayas before they moved to Manila when they were older.  And since back in the 90’s, my father together with one of her sisters have been flying back to Tabontabon once every year during the town’s fiesta to check out the parcels of land left by my grandmother.   And in June 1999, my father tagged me to join them along with my cousin to fly over Leyte with them.

This was my first time to fly on an airplane.  We took a Cebu Pacific Air flight to Tacloban City, the only major airport on the island of Leyte.   Back then, Cebu Pacific was fairly new in the market where it only started it airline operations in 1996.  There was even a joke then that when you fly on Cebu Pacific, you fly out from Cebu and arrive in the Pacific.  The joke came out after some airplane crashes Cebu Pacific had in its early years along with the then Asian Spirit (renamed to Zest Air but now operated as AirAsia Zest under AirAsia) which got the joke of flying as an Asian and arriving as a Spirit.

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Blast from the Past: Trip to Mayon Volcano

PauTravels with friends in Cagsawa Ruins and the Mayon Volcano

After my short trip back to Manila a few weeks back, I was able to get some old pictures of my previous trips.  I’ve brought these pictures back to Singapore and scan them to write up for those trips from way back.  I was able to get old pictures from albums of my Hanoi and Ha Long Bay trip to update my old posts for both trips.  I’m happy the digital era made me stop expensive photo printing and making those heavy albums.  I also got another set of pictures from my trip in Leyte which I’ll write about later.

Anyway, this blog is about the trip I made back in 2002 with my colleagues to Bicolandia in the Bicol Peninsula on the southern end of the island of Luzon.

Bicol Peninsula is composed of four different provinces composed of the people called the Bicolanos.  Bicol is best known in the Philippine for being the site of one of the most majestic natural wonders in the country, the Mayon Volcano in Legazpi City.  Also since a few years ago for a place to swim with the whalesharks in Donsol and a place for the extreme sport of wakeboarding in Camarines Sur (CamSur).

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Jade’s Jollibee Birthday Party

Jade's Jollibee Birthday Party

Last week, me and my whole family flew back to Manila for a whole week for a vacation with my our relatives back home and to celebrate the first birthday of our youngest daughter Jade.   And where else do celebrate it?  None other than the happiest place for kids in the Philippines, Jollibee.

Well, I guess it has become sort of a tradition to many Filipinos to celebrate their kids’ parties in Jollibee.   Jollibee is well loved by Filipino kids and adults alike mostly due to the food they serve that is very close to the Filipino taste, plus their mascots.   Jollibee is the most famous fastfood brand in the Philippines beating McDonald’s.

Jade was born on 8th of July but we have booked her party on a 14th in the Shangri-la Mall branch in Mandaluyong City.  We have invited relatives and some close friends to join us.   Well, the party is more for the kids and so we booked and made sure that Jollibee’s 5 mascots will be there to join us.

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McDonalds Singapore’s Hello Kitty Plushie Craze

McDonald's Hello Kitty Fairy Tales Plushies

For the past month of June, McDonald’s Singapore has set out to sell 6 limited edition Hello Kitty plushie dolls.  This is for the Hello Kitty Fairy Tales collection.

Each week, a plushie doll comes out on sale that may be purchased together with a McDonald’s Value Meal.  Each doll costs S$4.60 on top of the cost of a Value Meal, or simply S$10 if only the doll is to be bought.

The Hello Kitties featured 6 characters from 6 fairy tales, namely: The Lion from the Wizard of Oz on sale between May 30 to June 5;  The Little Red Riding Hood on sale between June 6-12; The Frog Prince on sale between June 13-19;  The Ugly Duckling on sale between June 20-26;  The Singing Bone on sale between June 27 to July 3; and the Hello Kitty McDelivery Witch which is on sale through out the period but available only through delivery.

All dolls were only available until stocks are available and their stocks sell fast and faster as each week passed.  On the week of the Wizard of Oz Kitty, their stores are able to sell the dolls for about the whole stretch of its week.   The week after for the Little Red Riding Hood, their stocks got sold out after like 3 days.   The McDelivery Witch got sold out after a week in sale.

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Singapore in Haze


For the past few days, Singapore has been enveloped with haze caused by smoke coming from forest fires in the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. This thick smoke has travelled north and have reached Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia as well.

According to Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA), Singapore’s air quality has reached to 155 PSI level last night, the highest since 2006.  This haze has now breached the unhealthy level.  Level 101-200 PSI is considered unhealthy.

A number of hotspots in Sumatra was detected where fire results to the haze being blown to the Malacca Strait by the annual westerly monsoon winds.

Due to this, I’ve been having itchy throat.  We’ve asked our helper not to let our kids out of the house and keep our windows shut.

The Other Side of Laiya Beach

Edlagan Kids on the Beach

Located at the southern eastern coast of the province of Batangas, lies the small and remote town of Laiya.  Remote as it can be but the town has become known due to the exclusive beach resorts that opened up along its beach, as well as a jump off point for people wanting to dive into the rich corals reefs off the coast of Batangas.  Batangas province, aside from its coffee, is known for its dive resorts most specially in the town of Anilao.

To reach Laiya from Manila, one will have to drive south through the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) all the way to the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) Expressway and take the exit to Lipa City.  From Lipa, one will need to pass through smaller roads that leads to Candelaria in the province of Quezon until reaching the San Juan-Laiya Road.

So far, I have been to Laiya twice.  First was with my wife’s family where we went for a swim in Laiya’s public beach which I’ll talk about on this blog and a year later on in our company team building in the Acuatico Resort on the other side of Laiya.

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Riding the Singapore Flyer

Near the mouth of the Marina Bay, Singapore has erected one of the many landmarks of the city. Just like the London Eye of the United Kingdom, the Singapore Flyer is an architectural wonder that is not easy to miss. Since it’s opening in 2008, the Singapore Flyer has taken the title of being the tallest Ferris Wheel in the world.  It is 30 meters taller than the London Eye.

From a number of times that I have visited Singapore as a tourist in the past and up to the time I have decided to move to Singapore to live and work, I have never planned to riding the flyer.   Well, not because I’m scared of riding one giant Ferris wheel but simply because I find it too expensive to ride.  Plus there are other places around Marina Bay where you can see the city from above.

For a price of S$33 for adults and S$21 for children, you can take a flight on board the flyer.  And it takes about 30 minutes to finish one revolution of the flyer.  Well fortunately, my wife Jen’s company raffles out free tickets for the flyer to its employees and for 2 times, she was able to be picked for the free tickets.   She got free tickets for four people.

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10 Must See Places in the Philippines

Must See Places in Philippines

Southeast Asia has been one of the most famous destinations for many backpackers and holidaymakers coming from Europe or the Northern Americas.   Among the more famous tourist routes include Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Malaysia.  Tourists would usually go straight to Bangkok or fly to Singapore.  Some would include Indonesia to visit Bali.

With tourist arrivals are high on these countries, the Philippines is still trailing behind.  Well maybe, I guess, is due to the fact that the countries I’ve stated all border each other, except most of Indonesia.  This makes backpacking easier as tourists can simply take a bus or take hours long of train rides to reach the neighboring country.  This is compared to the Philippines wherein the main means to reach is by air travel.

With a more challenging means to reach the Philippines, many simply skip the country.  Many probably do not know much about the Philippines except maybe that it’s a group of islands and maybe because of the thousands of shoes of Imelda Marcos, plus the other political problems we had in the past.

And so, what do tourists are probably missing as they skip the Philippines in their itineraries?

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