One Bad Night in Boracay

A story in tweets.









Surf Bound: Bali

Even though my surfing has been in stops and starts (I pop up at Club Manila East only every 6 months, and haven’t been on an ocean surfing trip in ages), it’s one of the things I try to do every opportunity I get — if I have a companion to come with me.

And that’s the problem: I’ve got a great freelance schedule, but everyone else is tied down to a 9-to-5. So any time I look for a travel companion, they all have work.

But I don’t think anybody could refuse a free trip to Bali, though. I mean, it’s BALI, one of Asia’s top beach and surfing destinations. This year, Aloha Boardsports’ Surf Bound: Bali is sending one lucky winner and a companion on a paid three-day getaway!

For every P2500 worth of products purchased from Aloha Boardsports stores, you’ll be entitled to one raffle entry. The lucky winner will receive a paid surf trip for two to Bali, Indonesia, inclusive of airfare courtesy of Air Asia, accommodations, and products from RVCA, Billabong, Dakine, Von Zipper and Sony.

Surf Bound: Bali prizes

Surf Bound: Bali prizes

Even if you don’t get the grand prize, three winners will also be chosen to win a Sony NEX-5N digital camera, a pair of Von Zipper eyewear, and P5000 worth of gift certificates from Aloha Boardsports and Billabong. The grand raffle draw will be held on June 4, 2012 at Aloha Boardsports Mall of Asia.

If you’ve been thinking about refreshing your beach staple wardrobe this year, this could be a win-win situation. For more details, visit the Aloha Boardsports Facebook page or

I'm surf-bound to Bali!

I'm surf-bound to Bali!

Trippin’: The Long Drive, Attempted

my old travel blog header image

my old travel blog header image

I remember years back when I started my now-defunct travel blog that I set out some travel goals I wanted to achieve. One of them was to go on a road trip where I would be driving most of the way.

Driving within the city, the challenge is to avoid traffic and accidents and get to my destination in a reasonable amount of time. Long drives out of town, the challenge is to stay awake and not get lost!

Last February I had the opportunity to be a support crew driver at the Bataan Death March Ultramarathon 160. We took my car, so I was driving when we left Metro Manila at 12 midnight, arrived in Mariveles, Bataan at 3am, and supported our runner until 11am. This meant I was in the driver’s seat for 11 hours (!!!). We then drove to San Fernando, Pampanga to check in at our hotel, which meant another hour of driving. If I wanted to, I could probably drive to Camsur myself next time I feel the need to wakeboard.

(I’m going to fly off on a tangent and tell a story about the last time I was on a bus back from Camsur. It was after the Camsur Marathon where I had been invited as a media guest, and I had a return flight to Manila. Unfortunately a storm hit the Bicol region and my flight was cancelled. Tessa Prieto-Valdes was in the party and arranged for a van ride instead for those who needed to go home. Buti na lang I chose to get on the van; others who took a chance that there would be return flights or bus rides the next day had to wait out the storm for two more days!)

So, the other weekend was my first solo long drive. I attended a triathlon camp at Pico de Loro in Nasugbu, Batangas and decided to drive there the day before so I’d have enough rest going into the tri weekend.

I printed out directions from Google Maps and thought they’d get me there, but unfortunately they only took me as far as Nasugbu public market! Thank God for the foresight to download the BlackBerry app for Google Maps; I was able to use it with my Globe BBMax subscription to get real-time location and directions to Pico de Loro. Sure there were big directional signs every so often on the highway, but it was nice having a safety blanket.

Coming home I also drove alone and decided to make a stop at Bag of Beans in Tagaytay City. Even though the cafe was on the only road I could take to get into Tagaytay, I turned on Google Maps so I could find out how long it would take me to get there. I wanted to be back in Manila at a certain time, so if it took too long to get to Bag of Beans I would have just skipped the stop. As it turns out, I had just enough time to get a cup of hot chocolate and some sylvannas for take-out. Just the right thing to keep me awake on my long drive back home.

I’m excited that I can now drive myself that far. Where will my little car take me this year?

Trippin’: Bohol Beach Break

Last December, not even four days had passed since I returned from my trip to Malaysia when I hopped aboard a plane again. This time, I was bound for Bohol to attend a high school friend’s wedding with Julia.

Trippin' to Bohol: Flying

I love flying!

This trip was planned way in advance so I had no idea both trips would be that close together. As a result, I was still tired from Malaysia. Got to tell you, though, Bohol was the vacation I needed.

Trippin' to Bohol: Bohol Beach Club
Trippin' to Bohol: sunbathing

kicking back at Bohol Beach Club

Thanks to a family friend of Julia’s, we were booked at the Bohol Beach Club on Panglao Island. After my frequent visits to that other island whose name also starts with “B”, Bohol Beach Club’s long stretch of white sand beach without the annoying hawkers trying to get you to go parasailing was very welcome. The water was also unbelievably clear and calm; it was a shame I forgot my goggles because I would have loved to swim a few hundred meters back and forth along the beach. I think I’ve found my new favorite place.

Trippin' to Bohol: swimming
Trippin' to Bohol: starfish
Trippin' to Bohol: Bohol Beach Club
Trippin' to Bohol: Bohol Beach Club

Trippin' to Bohol: zzzzzz

Bohol beach break

Julia and I spent a day and a half just snoozing on the beach and getting sun-kissed skin. (We also tested Benefit Bathina Body Balm for some additional glow.)

After getting that much-needed rest, I was ready for our friend’s wedding. It would be held at a much smaller resort about fifteen minutes away from the BBC, but that didn’t make it any less dramatic. In fact, it was the intimacy of the whole wedding party that struck me the most. Only those people who were important to her and those people who wanted to be there were present.

Trippin' to Bohol: flowers

Trippin' to Bohol: the wedding party
Trippin' to Bohol: Here Comes the Bride

Trippin' to Bohol: the beautiful bride
Trippin' to Bohol: the happy couple

Julia called this THE ISLAND WEDDING

Our friend had married into an Italian family, and the groom’s parents and family were barely conversant in English. Still, love and joy overflowed, needing no words to be felt.

Julia and I flew back to Manila the next day, which was Christmas Eve. It was just too little time to enjoy Bohol. In fact, the only creature I saw resembling a tarsier was myself after catching the bouquet.

Trippin' to Bohol: I caught the bouquet



Given my newly reawakened desire to travel, I was really pleased to wake up to my Twitter timeline last Thursday morning and see so much buzz about a Department of Tourism slogan to be revealed later that day. And BOOM! #ItsMoreFunInThePhilippines went viral.

Getting Upstairs. More fun in the Philippines

Getting Upstairs. More fun in the Philippines (via

Seriously, my timeline was flooded with tweets about the fun things to do in this country. The hashtag campaign was nice since it got Filipinos thinking about the things they could be proud of and that they enjoy doing here. The #itsmorefun hashtag trended worldwide, which is a good thing for drawing attention.

Along with encouraging people to tweet using the hashtag, the DOT launched a teaser website, aimed at snagging those people who would google for what the hashtag meant. The website’s copy states:

Wherever you go in the Philippines, it’s the Filipinos that will make your holiday unforgettable. Just ask anyone who’s been here. In fact, Lonely Planet guidebook calls us ‘among the most easygoing and ebullient people anywhere’. Find out for yourself why it’s more fun in the Philippines. And make the most out of your next vacation. This is just a preview of things to come. Watch out for more fun. Soon.[emphasis mine]

What a great start, right? Well, not really. Among the flood of positive tweets about why it’s more fun in the Philippines, there were some pretty ugly reminders of the things we really do need to fix in this country. These tweets focused on traffic jams, pollution, corruption, hostage crises, etc. There were critics of the campaign who said it was a waste of money when there was a Swiss ad that used the slogan in 1951. (Can anyone who can remember that Swiss ad when it first came out even travel now?) That the bad things in this country should be fixed first before we start marketing tourism to international visitors. Someone even registered a website that collects less than glamorous photo memes about the slogan. (I’m not linking it so it won’t get any Google juice.)

To that, I could only say: ayaw niyo talaga magkaroon tayo ng mga turista, ano? I’m pretty sure other countries aren’t pristine and peaceful either, yet they still persist in trying to draw in the tourists. That’s because tourism benefits the economy and also jumpstarts other infrastructure-building. And the “one problem at a time” people probably can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Pwede naman ipagsabay, hindi ba?

Former Tourism undersecretary Enteng Romano in a riposte about the bashing gave some great insider information about the nature of marketing to foreign tourists:

[Regarding the former slogan “WOW Philippines”:] …we don’t use it in Japan – our third largest market, because they don’t understand the word WOW and there is no direct equivalent of the word in their language. They don’t know that even in the US – our number one market (and where they fully understand the word WOW but maybe not appreciate it as we do), we dropped it and used another slogan because there was no traction. And they don’t know that in the last few years that we have been using the brand, we have steadily lost market share to the point where Vietnam has overtaken us in terms of tourist arrivals.

Of course you can argue that there are many other reasons for our declining market position – lack of infrastructure, traffic, lousy airport, lack of promotional budget., etc… But it might interest you to know that at the time when Vietnam overtook us, they had far worse infrastructure than ours (small airport, limited road network), and operating on a smaller promotional budget than ours. [emphasis mine]

Eyes are on us, Filipinos. DOT Secretary Mon Jimenez tweeted, “Tourism is successful in Thailand because their positive voice is louder than their negative voice.” What do you really want to show the world?

Change ofaddress. More fun in the Philippines

Change of address. More fun in the Philippines (via Olive del Valle)

Personally I’m excited about the buzz, and I’m hoping that any concrete plans to be implemented to make the Philippines more tourist-friendly will live up to expectations or exceed them. According to Sec. Jimenez (in a direct message to me), this is just the opening salvo.

If you’d like to create your own More Fun meme images, check out Jayvee’s tutorial and SEO tips. Or use Federico Colla’s More Fun Maker. Browse other people’s #itsmorefuninthephilippines meme images sourced from Twitter through created by Arnold Gamboa.

Trippin’ in KL

I’ve been traveling to the same place repeatedly for two years, so I was truly happy that Nuffnang Philippines tagged me along with other guest bloggers and the Philippine finalists to the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards. It was an amazing and exciting four days traveling with some of the country’s most interesting bloggers (in my honest opinion)!

Malaysia: NAPBAS

2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards

I’ll be writing more about the NAPBAS in my other blog, but I wanted to write separately about the traveling, sightseeing, and food tripping I did.  Read more

I’m Going to Malaysia!

The last time I used my passport was in 2008, and it’ll expire next year! So I’m really excited that it’ll make its last hurrah this weekend when I go to Malaysia for the Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards.

Aside from hobnobbing with the who’s who of the Asia Pacific blogosphere and meeting fellow bloggers from other countries, I’m really excited to travel outside the country again. I’ve never been to Malaysia.

The NAPBAS will be held at the Putrajaya Marriott Hotel (in a district 25 kilometers away from Kuala Lumpur), but we’ll be shuttling in and out of KL for the afterparty on Friday, and a guided tour on Saturday. I’ve got one free day on Sunday and since the Petronas Towers aren’t on the tour’s itinerary, hopefully a few of the Filipino bloggers will want to visit it then.

I’m also really looking forward to running Putrajaya’s streets and seeing buildings such as the Putra Mosque.

Putra Mosque
It’s pink!

Dreaming of Traveling

Because of this photo of the Moai (otherwise known as the Easter Island statues), I’ve just spent the entire afternoon on Wikipedia reading about Easter Island’s history and how a whole people’s culture was basically lost. I like these kinds of days spent researching ancient cultures set in exotic locales because it almost feels like traveling there without having to spend a dime. Hehehe!

Lately I’ve also read Ursula K. LeGuin’s book Changing Planes. It’s a collection of her short stories about traveling between planes of existence, and the different cultures, societies, and beings that could exist on such planes. It’s fantasy yes, but once again I am transported to different places.

I’ve just finished rereading and reposting entries from my old travel blog. You can now read them by clicking on the “Travel” tab on my Categories menu. It’s been such a long time since I actually documented a trip for the sake of writing about it. It’s been a long time since I’ve been anywhere new, actually.

Hope you enjoy reading back on where I’ve been, and I hope I can add a new tale before the year ends. 🙂

Bad Bus Ride

I went to CamSur over the weekend to cover a wakesport event (board and skate). While it’s about an hour away by plane (Naga-bound) and shuttle, the magazine I worked for on this particular assignment sent us there by bus.

The last time I was on a long trip via bus, I was in high school and it was for our yearly field trip. I have plenty of friends who go to their provincial homes every other month or so on overnight buses. I thought I could just sleep the hours away, since I pride myself on my ability to fall asleep anywhere.

What I didn’t count on was a bus breakdown 4 hours into what should have been an 8-hour trip. From my light almost-sleep I awoke to the sound of the engine losing power and the sensation of the bus coming to a stop. Although the engine was still running and the aircon was at full blast, we weren’t going anywhere. And for 4 hours after that, te driver, the conductor, and a kind bsmate pumped the clutch hoping that the hydraulics would kick in. Finally, we started moving again.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the end of our bus woes, as there was also something wrong with the engine’s fuel injection system. Our bus started and stopped a total of 7 times before our replacement bus from Naga came and picked us up.

Total travel time: 14 hours.

You know what the clincher was on that trip? Three days later, we took the same bus back to Manila.

Trippin’: Surfing CME

Every so often, my friends from the Philippine Surfing Academy text me about their packages for surf trips (“surfari”) to Quezon or Zambales. I’m always very tempted to go, but their schedules never quite fit with my free time. So, last Saturday I moved heaven and earth just so I could surf at Club Manila East’s wave pool, where the PSA hold surfing lessons.

Surfing CME: waiting for the next set

waiting for the “surf treadmill”

I first visited this wave pool last June during a shoot for a (now-defunct) web TV show. A few weeks later I took some friends there. Unfortunately, that was the last time I was there. But you know what? Surfing is just like riding a bicycle. You never forget.

Since this was my third time there and I already knew how to get up on my board and ride a wave, coach Ejay Ventura began teaching me how to catch my own wave. Beginners get their boards pushed by the coach. I had to learn when to begin paddling hard so I could pick up enough speed to be in front of a wave when it breaks. Oh wow, was it hard on the arms! But the rush I got from catching my own wave was so worth it.

Surfing CME: stoked!

catching a wave

My appetite has been whetted. Next time, I’m going on surfari!

Surfing lessons at CME by the Philippine Surfing Academy are P1,500 for a 2-hour lesson, board rental, and whole-day use of other CME facilities.