Boracay in the New Year, Day 3

(This is the third of four planned posts about spending the new year in Boracay, December 29, 2007 to January 1, 2008.)

New Year's Eve dawns In preparation for our plan to stay out all night, we decided to laze around on our third day in Boracay. I really do mean lazy; I laid myself out on the sand at 9am and didn’t move except to turn myself over and to get a fruitshake from Jonah’s.

In fact, that day was so lazy the next time we took pics was when our family went out for dinner. It being New Year’s Eve, we all wanted to look extra special.

the De Guzman familythe Mangubat familythe Wright women
We clean up nice as a clan, yes?

We had dinner reservations at Jo-Ni’s Resort, which is nicely situated between Station 3 and Station 1. This meant we could stick around in the area until midnight and observe the fireworks from the Station 3 and 1 resorts. Trondz and our other friends from the night before had made reservations at the Seawind, which had its own scheduled entertainment and fireworks show. We were content to leech the sights and sounds for free from our place.

fireworksWe ended up waiting for midnight at Jonah’s. The fireworks began in earnest from both ends of White Beach and we found ourselves swinging our heads from side to side, much like a tennis game. Only at night. And with hundreds of balls in the air at the same time. It was the longest fireworks show in the history of Boracay, lasting about an hour. And we really felt it; by the end we were just begging for the resorts to run out of rockets to send shooting into the sky.

firedancing at BeachcomberWe bid our parents and family goodbye as Caelli, Marielle and I met up with Trondz and went dancing at Beachcomber, where DJ Manolet Dario was playing some great house and trance music. We were given an unexpected treat as two of the staffers from Beachcomber lit up their poi and did an impromptu firedance show.

The rest of the night got crazy as we went from Beachcomber to Paraw to Ariel’s House, where the proprietor gave us two complimentary bottles of Asti Martini to celebrate the New Year with. Our party got bigger and louder as other people came in to play foosball with us, of all things.

Marielle, Caelli, Marc Nelson, and Trondz at Ariel's HouseRovilson and Marielle
foosball at Ariel's Housewith the Amazing Race Asia 2 team

breakfast at Jonah'sAnd that was until daybreak, when I got really hungry and asked everyone to come along to breakfast. Where? Jonah’s. (Gosh we never got tired of that place, huh?) Boracay had been cloudy the previous day and made good on its threat to rain that morning. We got a fine stinging spray all over the island.

double rainbow seen from Jonah'sThen the sky bust out a double rainbow, a glorious sight seen through our sleep-deprived eyes. We dawdled over breakfast, then stumbled home at 9am. It was the best New Year’s celebration we’d ever had, so we were quite bummed that our flight home was already scheduled for the afternoon. Or so we thought.

Tags: , ,

Boracay in the New Year, Day 2

(This is the second of four planned posts about spending the new year in Boracay, December 29, 2007 to January 1, 2008.)

posing for pics before going to Puka BeachOur second day in Boracay dawned sunny and bright, perfect for our planned trip to Puka Beach. Located on the north side of the island at the end of the island’s single highway, it’s just a stretch of sand squished between the jungle and the ocean. picnic lunch on Puka BeachNo beachfront restaurants with loud music blaring from speakers, no enterprising people pushing banana boat rides on you, no toilets — simply perfect for lazing away an entire morning swimming in stronger currents and looking for puka shells on the beach. Puka Beach isn’t entirely devoid of development, however; we were able to have a picnic lunch delivered from a restaurant on the highway and thus introduced cousin Caelli to her first taste of coconut milk straight out of the nut. Ü

twilight at the TidesWe returned to White Beach the same way we had come (via tricycle) and spent the rest of the afternoon sunning ourselves. Then Trondz came by to introduce his friend Doji to us and invite us to the Tides at D*Mall. There we watched the sun set as we sipped our complimentary mojitos courtesy of the Tides’ owner Stephen, who was on the premises.

drinks at Ariel's HouseWe were supposed to have dinner with the family, but all of us agreed we’d meet back up later in the evening for a night out. And oh my, what a night it was. Trondz dragged us (we were very willing, though) and a new friend Sarah from Ariel’s House (a newly-opened establishment fronting the Boracay Beach Club) to Club Paraw to the Tides back to Paraw and then lastly to Hey Jude.

we got the party started at Hey Jude
We got the dancing started as we shimmied in the DJ’s booth.

We decided to call it a night around 1am, preferring to save our energy for the next night, which would be New Year’s Eve. I met up with Johnny Z just as we were leaving Hey Jude. It was his last night in Boracay; he was due on air in Manila the next morning and would miss the celebrations.

The thing with meeting people in Boracay is, sure you can become fast friends, but unless you actually are determined to keep in touch (let’s say via phone or Facebook or meeting up back in Manila), you might never see that person again.

Tags: , ,

Boracay in the New Year, Day 1

(This is the first of four planned posts about spending the new year in Boracay, December 29, 2007 to January 1, 2008.)

plane in the cloudsEver since we first set foot on Boracay, I’ve always wanted to come back at a time when the water’s free of algae and the sand’s less populated with people and beer bottles. That time would be during the dry off-season of October to February. It’s a relative off-season, since in December to January people rush in to experience Boracay during their vacation.

We’d decided to welcome the new year on the island, so months before the trip our flights were already booked and our reservations had been made. Because of that, we arrived on the island without incident and immediately set out to get a tan.

first day on Boracay's beachArmed with our bottles of suntan lotion and sunblock, we laid ourselves out on the beach after a light liquid snack at Jonah’s Fruitshakes. Unfortunately, some cloud cover came and put our tanning on hold. Just at that time, some people tried to get a volleyball game going so my cousin Caelli and I joined them. Yes, volleyball. In our bikinis.

meeting our boatmatesThe game ended just in time again for my friend Trondz to invite us out to a sunset cruise sponsored by San Miguel Super Dry beer. (Now, Trondz owns the Ice Monster franchise and Glimmer glitter tattoo shop on the island, so I consider him pretty tuned-in to the happenings on Boracay.) He was able to get our names on the invite list, so we got on the last speedboat going to the M/V Vianelle, the largest sailing trimaran in the Philippines. It was a laidback cruise set to a live performance from a very able singer, who serenaded us with renditions of John Legend songs.

Caelli, Noelle, Marielle hanging out on the M/V Vianelle The cruise being a promotional event, it was being covered by 103.5 MaxFM’s DJs Johnny Z and Logan. Since we had come in on the last boatload with them and had made introductions all round, when they started broadcasting live from the trimaran (via cellphone call) it was yours truly who got interviewed. Then Caelli, Marielle and I were photographed as part of San Mig’s photo set to be used for advertising in fashion magazines. We qualified because we were wearing what their idea of “Boracay fashion” was. (You know what? We basically had thrown on what we were wearing at the time because that boat ride was so last-minute.)

firedancing face-offThat night we turned in early, tired from travel. But not before we caught a full show of firedancers facing off. I was fascinated by the lights and the risk involved, but my paranoia finally got the best of me and by the end of the evening I was sitting out on the sand far away from the smell of kerosene and the sight of flaming cans spinning out on strings.

Tags: , ,

Cebu Pacific Sucks

Hey all. We had a great New Year’s celebration in Boracay (which I will write about later this week), but at the very end of it all our January 1 flight out of Kalibo got cancelled. Since it was the last flight of the day, we got stuck in Kalibo for one night. That wouldn’t have been so bad, if it weren’t for Cebu Pacific shafting us. Below is an email my mom wrote concerning the poor treatment we got from Cebu Pacific staff and the irregularities concerning the cancellation of our flight.

I am really sorry for sending this very lengthy email to all of you. Please bear with me as I just have to let all of you know a very unpleasant experience I had with Cebu Pacific.

I was one of the passengers of the above-mentioned flight from Kalibo to Manila [Flight 5J344], which was cancelled last Jan. 1, 2008. We were a party of 10 people coming from a vacation in Boracay. There were about 150 passengers for that particular flight, many coming from Boracay, mostly Filipinos, with some foreigners.

The flight was scheduled to leave at 4:30PM. We checked in at about half past 3 and patiently waited for our flight. Boarding was supposed to be at 4:05. However, by that time, there was no sign of our plane. On the ground were 1 Asian Spirit and one PAL plane. Shortly after 4, the Asian Spirit plane took off. An Air Philippines plane landed after that. Still, there was no sign of Cebu Pacific plane. At 4:50, I inquired at the counter why our plane still had not landed. I was told that it could not land because the PAL plane was taking off. 15 minutes after PAL took off, there was still no sign of our plane. The passengers were all quite concerned by this time, but we waited patiently.

At about 5:40PM, an announcement was made that our plane was circling in the air waiting for clearance to land, as it was raining at this time. At a little after 6, another announcement was made that our plane headed back to Manila because it could not land. So, our flight had been cancelled. We immediately proceeded to the counter where we were informed that indeed, our flight had been canceled so we had to find lodging for the night. It was clearly stated by the people manning the counter that our lodging would not be shouldered by Cebu Pacific since it was due to inclement weather. We were given telephone numbers of the different hotels in the area and were made to call these hotels, on our own.

We were ready to accept inclement weather as the reason for the flight cancellation until an Asian Spirit plane landed. We could not believe that a smaller plane could manage to land in spite of the rain, and the Cebu Pacific plane, a bigger plane, could not land. On further questioning, we were told that since our plane was running out of fuel, it headed back to Manila. This angered us even more, because, if indeed fuel was running low, the most logical thing to do was head to the nearest airport with complete facilities – that would be Cebu – gas up, and return to Kalibo. Why on earth would the plane, low on fuel, head back to Manila, a much farther destination, then decide to no longer return to Kalibo?

We were informed that the airline could not give us a special flight. We were told that we would have to be chance passengers in the 3 flights the next day. That was a ridiculous thing to say to about 150 or so angry passengers. Many of us had appointments on Jan. 2. That was precisely the reason we all opted to return to Manila on Jan. 1, New Year’s Day. How on earth could 150 people be accommodated in three fully-booked flights? One other option given to us was to take the Ro Ro.

It was already close to 8 PM, but, not even a drop of water or a single peanut was offered to any of us by the crew. We had been in the airport since about 3PM were tired, hungry, and thirsty. But we had to face a very unsympathetic Cebu Pacific crew. Every time we asked for their manager, we were told that they were trying to reach him/her. What kind of a manager could not be reached for more than 2 hours, in an emergency situation like this?

When we were told that there was definitely nothing else they could do, we finally left to find a hotel so our children could rest. But when we left, we still had no assurance that there would be a special flight for us. We were asked to leave our contact numbers so they could get in touch with us for any developments.

We found room in La Esperanza Hotel. We ordered dinner from Chow King since the hotel had no restaurant. At about 10pm, we got a call informing us that arrangements had been made for a special flight at 10AM the next day. Thankful for the new development, we all went to sleep.

The next day, after settling our hotel bill, we hired a van to take us to the airport (10 people + luggage). We were able to leave Kalibo after 11 am, more than one hour later than the planned 10:05 am departure time. We were so thankful that, at least, we were on our way home to Manila.

Everything was alright until my officemates informed me the next day that our plight found its way to the newsroom. And according to the news in ABS CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda show, Cebu Pacific shouldered our hotel accommodations in Kalibo. That is an outright lie! Not a single centavo was given to us by the airline. We had to pay for our hotel accommodation, our dinner, and the van rental. I am very sure the other passengers will say the same thing.

I learned a painful lesson the hard way. After this incident, I WILL NEVER FLY CEBU PACIFIC AGAIN. And, I will tell this story to as many people as I can, so that they will see how we were treated by Cebu Pacific.

So there you go. Cebu Pacific sucks! Next time, we’re taking Seair or Asian Spirit or even Philippine Airlines.

Tags: ,