Around Mega Manila

PauTravels in Intramuros Manila

Being a resident of Manila, traveling around it is just part of my routine.  I have been to almost every nook and corner of Manila.  But I’d just try to write up something about the nation’s capital in this article.

Manila lies along the inland shores of Manila Bay at the central area of the island of Luzon, the northern major island of the Philippines.  It was born from the banks of the Pasig River near its mouth that open up to the Manila Bay.  It has acquired its name from an extinct mangrove tree that bloomed a beautiful white flower, called ‘Nilad‘. The nilad used to be abundant near the river delta.  Local people called the place ‘may nilad‘, which meant ‘where there is nilad‘.  Eventually the name became from May Nilad to Maynila, in Filipino verbage and Manila in English.

The city is the current seat of the democratic government of the Philippines and has been a center of political power for more than 400 years, except during the Commonwealth regime in the 1940’s.  The city has been part of the Philippine history and dates back to pre-Hispanic occupation until in 1570 when it was ceded as the capital of the archipelago named in the honor of King Philip of Spain.

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Exploring Bohol

PauTravels and Jen at the Chocolate Hills of Bohol

In early 2006, Cebu Pacific Airlines celebrated their 10th year of airline services and alongside with this, they’ve offered a limited seat sale of P10 only at any of their domestic flights, taxes not included.  This was such a big sale compared to the regular price.  And with this, my officemates and myself organized to purchase these very cheap air ticket and decided that we shall be going to beautiful island of Bohol and return to Manila via Cebu.  We got a total of 17 tickets that day.  To-date, Cebu Pacific still offer this cheap tickets every now and then specially during off-peak periods.

And so, we’ve decided to go to Bohol and Cebu on September 9th – 12th that year.  I was tasked to organize our trip as it was my passion to organize trips. I looked up for tour packages in Bohol and Cebu.  I’ll discuss on a separate blog our arrangements for Cebu.  From a suggestion from one of the group, I got a contact with the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) after seeing their website of the Balicasag Island Dive Resort.

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Philippines, How Much Have I Seen of You?

My home country, the Philippines, is an archipelagic nation of 7,107 islands that is situated in the South East Asian region.  It is a tropical country bounded by three bodies of water, the Pacific Ocean to the east, the West Philippine Sea to the west, and the Celebes Sea to the south.  It is basically composed of three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The country’s population is pegged at 88 Million, 90% o which are Roman Catholics.  A smaller percentage of the population is composed of Muslim Filipinos who generally reside at the southern islands.  The Philippines also has a long history of Spanish colonization, 333 years in total.  This is still evident with Hispanic architecture left.  The Philippines was discovered by the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Megallan under the Spanish flag in 1521.  Then it was also under the US Commonwealth rule for 40 years.

The Philippines is also composed of a diverse group of people with hundreds of different dialects though English is a second language.  And each of its 7000+ islands has a distinct characteristic on its own.  And on this journal, I’ll be listing down the different places in this country of mine that I have visited and possibly my experience with Philippine culture.  And I’ll be linking any blog that I’d be writing for each destination.

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Cruising by Ha Long Bay

PauTravels Cruising by Ha Long Bay

My very first international travel flew me to this exotic country that was caught in the midst of war a few decades ago.  In October 8, 2003 through my work, my company sent me to Hanoi, Vietnam for a whole month.  Hanoi, is the capital of this socialist republic and is situated on the northern part of what used to be the communist North Vietnam.  Famous spots in Hanoi includes the Hoan Kiem Lake which is in the center of the city.  Within Hanoi is the old French Quarters which is basically a section of the city filled with French architecture that was left by the long French occupation, including the Hanoi Opera House.  Also, here you can visit the frozen tomb of Vietnam’s national hero, Ho Chi Minh.

During my long stay in Vietnam, I, with 2 lady friends planned on going into this serene place and is one of UNESCO‘s world heritage sites.  On the 2nd of November, we took an overnight cruise to Ha Long Bay.  We got our cruise package from Handspan travel agency in Hanoi.  Our package includes transportation from Hanoi’s busy commercial area to Ha Long Bay, guided tour to one of its caves, and our sumptuous meals. It costs US$50 each person in 2003.

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Trip to Banaue

PauTravels in picture taken with Ifugao elders

Christmas last year (2006), my wife, two cousins, and myself embarked on a journey to visit a land among the mountains, the land of the Ifugaos.

Through the Philippine Tourism Authority, we have procured a travel package to see two Philippine tourist destination that are found off-the-beaten track.  We took a 3-day/2-night travel package to see Banaue, Bontoc, and Sagada.  The package includes transport from Banaue to Sagada and back via Bontoc, breakfast and a packed lunch for the Sagada trip, tour guide, accommodation, and some souvenirs.

Banaue is situated in the mountainous province of Ifugao, around 10 hour bus ride north of Manila.  This is also the site of the majestic Banaue Rice Terraces which are rice paddies terraced on the mountain sides.  These have been carved by the Ifugao tribes for thousands of years, even before the Spanish colonization.  These are also composed of four UNESCO world heritage sites.

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