Wake Up, Philippines!

10 Reasons Why There is Genuine Hope for RP

Posted in philippines, Pinoy's Pride by Erineus on May 7, 2009
05/04/09


By Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan

1. We are strategically located at the heart of East Asia.

Northeast Asia (Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong) and Southeast Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos) combined makes East Asia. We are only at most four hours away from every major city in East Asia. If the Philippines were a real estate venture in a commercial area, ours is a location to die for. We can be the shipping and air transport hub of East Asia. We can be the top tourist destination of the region. We can be the cultural center of the region for performing arts.

2. We are No. 1 in aquamarine resources worldwide.

“We have the most diverse aquamarine ecosystem in the entire world which, if managed properly, will feed not only our hungry people but will be a source of huge revenue coming from a world in dire need of aquamarine resources such as fish, seaweed, and other similar products. We can be the seafood basket and aquamarine resource center of the world, the aquamarine resource powerhouse of the world.

3. We have a huge tourism industry potential.

Our people are by nature extremely friendly and hospitable. We only have some 3 million tourist visits every year, while our neighbors are doing 4 or 5 times more with 12 to 15 million tourist visits annually. It has been said that other countries in the ASEAN are doing so much more with so little in terms of natural wonders and beautiful sites while we are doing so little with so much. With the right infrastructure such as highways and airports and seaports in place, we can be the number one tourist destination in ASEAN if not Asia.

4. We are now No. 2 in the BPO industry worldwide and can become No. 1.

We are, I am told, currently second to India in the business process outsourcing industry. I am told as well that this industry expects 30 percent growth this year despite the worldwide recession as foreign companies look aggressively to lowering costs of doing business and therefore look to business outsourcing.

5. We are extremely creative and artistic people.

We have been called the songbirds of Asia. Our reputation as performers is legendary throughout the world (although we have never been boastful about it). We can be the center of performing arts in Asia wherein millions would visit the country annually to marvel at our cultural performances and our artistic productions.

6. We have the emergence of a new generation of progressive and results-oriented public sector leaders.

Since the restoration of democracy in 1986 and the passage of the Local Government Code in 1991 (or some 20 years now), public officials have began to work with new resources (40 percent of national taxes are now plowed back to local government units compared to less than 10 percent in 1986) made available by decentralization. Today a new generation of public sector leaders is emerging, one that is empowered, that is vision driven and results-oriented. This explains why we have successful local government initiatives in Marikina, Makati, Naga City, Davao City, Iloilo City, Cebu City, Calbayog City, and General Santos City, among others. Hence from a generation of public sector leaders that by and large was corrupt, lacking in vision, creativity, and innovation, we now have the emergence of a new generation of public sector leaders with integrity, with proactive leadership, and with a commitment to reform and genuine change. New governance models and templates that are solving age-old problems in the field are being forged, being tempered as we speak. A new brand of political leadership is emerging focused on solving age old problems in governance. The old, failed methods utilized by the trapos will soon be crushed and defeated.

7. Information and communication technology advancement is enhancing our sense of nationhood.

Rather than a country of many languages and many islands, we are fast becoming one nation, connected by information and communication technology. The ethno-linguistic barriers that used to keep us divided are being shattered by the interconnectivity of information technology. Today an entire generation of Filipinos fully understands, and can connect with, the Filipino language because of two decades of television news in Filipino (all TV news used to be English until 1986). The three elements of nationhood are: common language, common territory and common economy. We are now becoming a nation because information technology is breaking the barriers that have prevented us from becoming united as a people. It is also now reconnecting some 10 million Filipinos overseas to the motherland. We are becoming one nation and one people.

8. We have a re-emerging middle class mindset.

After over three decades of the OFW boom, we now have a new generation of citizens steeped with modern ideas coming from the highly successful host nations like Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United Sates. Europe too has become host to hundreds of thousands of OFWs. The OFWs who have experienced life in these highly developed nations can now compare and contrast these experiences with the experiences in the motherland. In highly developed nations there is, to a greater extent, a greater sense of accountability and a greater sense of justice and fair play. Our OFWs bring all that back home and having been enlightened by the experience will demand greater of their leaders back home. People are beginning to say enough is enough and are actually doing something about it.

9. We are a young nation.

Close to 30 million of our 45 million voters are 18 to 35 years old. Very young. If harnessed effectively, these young voters can usher in the political and electoral change that we need to happen for genuine political and economic reforms to take place.

10. We are a people who love to laugh, who love our families.

We are a resilient people. We can draw unimaginable strength and fortitude in times of difficulty in order to move ahead. We know how to survive despite so much pain and suffering. We know how to cope. We are willing to sacrifice so much of ourselves in order to provide for our family, our loved ones. This strength will not only bring us out of the mess we are in but will ensure that we are able to reach greater heights in our collective desire as a people to have a better life for those we truly care for, for those who mean the world to us. Our resilience in the long run will not only make us survive but will also ensure that we will triumph in the end.

We have enough reason to hope. We have, as a people, enough reason to act on these hopes and when we do, the genuine change we all seek will finally see the light of day and yes, by all means, in our lifetime.

http://blogs.inquirer.net/beingfilipino/2009/05/04/10-reasons-why-there-is-genuine-hope-for-rp/

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Breathe less for better health

Posted in Breathing, Health by Erineus on May 7, 2009

By Ruby de Vera
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 19:08:00 05/04/2009

Filed Under: Health

MANILA, Philippines – What’s so difficult about breathing, right? It’s the most natural and instinctive thing in the world. After all, we can survive for days without food and water but only a few minutes without air. Our emotions and stress levels are reflected on the way we breathe, and other factors such as illness, pain, or even allergies cause us to breathe differently.

One myth about it is that the more oxygen, the better. Hyperventilation actually causes hypocapnia, or lowered carbon dioxide levels. When we over-breathe (or habitually take deep breaths) we tend to lose more carbon dioxide. This in turn causes an imbalance in the body, leading to illnesses. Breathing should be done superficially, and only through the nose.

Jac Vidzen is a senior practitioner of the Buteyko Breathing Technique, which was developed by Doctor Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko in Russia over 40 years ago. Vidzen studied under a student of Buteyko.

In 1993, Vidzen was at a crossroads in his life and was looking for a career change, and did some part-time work with a Buteyko practitioner in Sydney. He was completely fascinated with the concept that he worked on becoming a practitioner himself. He is here in Manila to offer sessions on proper breathing.

How do we know if we breathe too deeply? The Buteyko technique offers the Control-Pause test as follows: “…breathe in gently for two seconds, then exhale gently for three seconds. Hold your breath, pinching the nose after exhaling, holding your breath until it first becomes difficult. If you manage less than 10 seconds (on the third step) you have very serious health problems. If you can hold less than 25 seconds your health requires attention, 30-40 seconds is satisfactory and 60 and above is excellent.”

The sessions are but a catalyst, a guide on proper breathing to enable the participants to make it a lifetime habit. Vidzen says there are no age limits for those who want to join the sessions, saying he had children as young as four join their parents, as long as they can follow instructions. Furthermore, the changes are more dramatic in children and they adapt the technique earlier.

The breathing technique can help alleviate asthma, anxiety, panic disorders, allergic rhinitis, cough, and sleep disorders. It reduces the need for medication for these ailments. For systemic disorders like chronic fatigue syndrome or hormonal dysfunctions, the effect is less dramatic but more long-term.

The classes will start on May 2 at PhilDHRRA Partnership Center, 59 C. Salvador St., Loyola Heights, and on May 5 at InTouch Community Services, 48-A McKinley Road, Forbes Park, Makati City. The classes will consist of five sessions each.

For more information on the sessions, you may call Jac Vidzen at 0919-6356060, or e-mail jacvid@gmail.com. You can also visit http://www.buteykoasia.com and http://www.buteykoasia.multiply.com.

http://showbizandstyle.inquirer.net/lifestyle/lifestyle/view/20090504-203058/Breathe-less-for-better-health

Miriam Santiago asks where the best Wagyu is

Posted in Food/Drinks, Hotel, Hotels/Restaurants/Bars by Erineus on May 7, 2009

By Reggie Aspiras
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:13:00 05/06/2009

MANILA, Philippines — I beg you to send me a list of your recommended dining places in Metro Manila. If you could, I hope you could specify which ones serve good Japanese Wagyu steaks. I would also like to know if you have your own restaurant. Thank you very much.

Your friend and admirer,

Miriam Defensor- Santiago

It is a privilege to be read by you, Madame Senator.

I no longer have a restaurant. The last was at Shangri-La many moons ago, where, I recall, you were once our guest.

On places to enjoy Wagyu (a term referring to all Japanese beef/cattle, from “Wa,” meaning “Japanese/Japanese-style,” and “Gyu,” meaning “cattle”), I indulge myself only in two places. I haven’t done the Wagyu rounds since I’m extremely satisfied with these two places.

It is a matter of whether I’m loaded or broke; I remain a purist on the subject. If I cannot have the real deal, I will settle for an excellent US prime steak which is no less delicious or satisfying.

But since you want a range of options, I asked my colleagues for a well-sorted list of restaurants that serve Wagyu.

My thanks to chefs James Antolin, Sau del Rosario, J. Gamboa, and Ed Quimson for their inputs.

Tsukiji’s Wagyu Ohmi Beef

It is unanimous! Tsukiji is the place for honest-to-goodness Ohmi Wagyu.

Ohmi is the official beef of the Japanese Imperial household. Whether as shabu-shabu or yakiniku, either way, it’s delicious! I would go for the sirloin over the rib eye for true heart-clogging, mouth-watering satisfaction. (Call 843-4285/812-2913.)

Tokujyou-Karubi at Urameshiya

Urameshiya is another personal favorite for Wagyu. My pocket loves it and so do my taste buds. This is a sulit Wagyu experience. I suggest you call and reserve. They run out of Tokujyou-Karubi sometimes. (Call 813-2210.)

Umu’s Shabu-Shabu

Umu at Dusit offers an array of Wagyu in different grades, cooked in a multitude of ways. Gyu no Tataki-Wagyu Carpaccio Japanese-style (A3 level from Tochigi, Japan), Teppanyaki: Kuroge Wagyu (A3 level from Tochigi, Japan) and Kuroge Wagyu Beef (A4 level from Ibaragi, Japan). From the Robata Section, there’s Gyuniku Kushiyaki, skewered Wagyu Beef (A3 level from Tochigi, Japan). (Call 867-3333.)

Other places and ways to enjoy Wagyu:

145’s Manhattan

145 Degrees Fahrenheit serves Wagyu from US corn-fed herd, 300 g of premium chuck steak, grade 7-8, pan-seared to medium with roasted beef bone marrow served with haricot vert and a choice of mashed potato or creamed corn. (Call 703-2725/332-1955.)

Wagyu Ox Tongue

Restaurant Ciçou offers Wagyu Ox Tongue braised in court bouillon and seared with butter with confit baby potatoes and sauce ravigote. (Call 889-6728.)

Tivoli at Mandarin

Order grilled or char-grilled Australian 9A-grade Wagyu rib eye, 700 g good for two to three persons, served with Caesar Salad, sauces and garnishes (spinach puree, mushroom fricassee, pommes pont neuf with garlic caramel, bone marrow sauce) for P12,880. (Call 750-8888.)

Carpaccio Ristorante Italiano

To open Mother’s Day, they will serve Wagyu Carpaccio. Order one day in advance. (Call 843-7286 and 867-3764.)

I’m Angus Steakhouse

They grill US Wagyu Rib eye upon request with your choice of sidings and sauces. Their Baby Back Ribs are good and rather reasonably priced, and so are their US Chilled Angus Prime Steaks. Their bread is delicious! (Call 893-1573.)

Pinoy Wagyu Burgers at Malcolm’s

For those who crave for hearty burgers, there’s Malcolm’s Deli and Malcolm’s Place. These burgers are from Wagyu raised right at the foothills of Mt. Kitanglad, Bukidnon. (Call 844-0000.)

Melo’s

They offer Wagyu Rib eye, Rib eye and Prawns, 24-ounce Cowboy Cut, Tenderloin, Striploin, 18-ounce T-Bone and 24-ounce Porterhouse, served with your choice of sauce. I’ve had friends who’ve tried Melo’s Wagyu and were quite pleased. (Call 899-2456, 924-9194 and 7712288.)

Should you want Wagyu at home, here are the numbers to call:

Mr. Tanaka—0917-2011716, by order and bulk sales only. (Thanks Maritess for sharing your source.)

American Wagyu Snake River Farms—Call Anna, 0922-8151750.

Philippine Wagyu, Umalag Farms—Call Allan Cueva, 0920-9192911 and 0920-9043410.

Wagyu Miyasakei Beef, Sakura—815-1274

My new class schedules are out, my Gourmet Cocinera Series for beginners and household cooks is ongoing, and a new series on the hows and whys of cooking for beginners is about to start. Dr. Francis Dimalanta and I are doing “The Well-nourished Child Series: A Behavioral and Nutritional Approach to Battling Childhood Food Issues.”
On May 23, I am conducting a “Food and History Trip Back in Time” in Taal, the grand lady of Batangas, with heritage preservation advocate Dindo Montenegro.
For inquiries, call 928-9296/927-3008. Look for Jane or Jhem at 647-4744/0908-2372346.

E-mail the author at raspiras@inquirer.com.ph.http://showbizandstyle.inquirer.net/lifestyle/lifestyle/view/20090506-203538/Miriam-Santiago-asks-where-the-best-Wagyu-is

Greatest Boracay moments

Posted in Resort and Park, Rest and Liesure, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on May 7, 2009

By Lester Gopela Hallig Updated May 01, 2009 12:00 AM

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One MGM’s beachfront — 90 meters long — is a good five-minute walk from one’s room, and rewards visitors with a perfect view of the sea and the famous sunset.

MANILA, Philippines – Upwardly mobile and wired individuals who went to Boracay this summer have been all over the Internet lately. Go to your friends’ Facebook and Multiply accounts and you will see what we mean. Pictures from the popular beach are posted, complete with their sober and drunken moments, the food, the hotel, the fantastic sunset, and the blue waters. Scenes like these make up the memories that everyone would like to partake of. After all, only the good, fun things are worth remembering.

All things considered, One MGM Boracay Resort and Convention Center is making sure that its guests will always remember living out their Boracay dreams. By providing more than just a residence in what is considered the best beach in the world, One MGM is an experience in itself.

One MGM might come as a pleasant surprise for first-timers. It looks like one big garden lined with its 86 elegantly appointed guestrooms and suites: the Mansion House, the Country House, the Summer House, the Bougainvilla, the villas, and the cottages.

Each guestroom presents a nod to nature and old-world charm, with its first-class furniture and native-style housing with bamboo and amakan finish. There are spacious terraces and comfortable garden furniture that are perfect for lounging in the afternoon. Tropical garden ambience doesn’t get any better than this.

The great thing is, its enormous size — all 4.5 hectares of it — makes it the only resort accessible from the beachfront and the main road. The beachfront is 90 meters long, a good five-minute walk from one’s room, and rewards visitors with a perfect view of the sea and the famous sunset.

“We will build an additional 300 guest rooms that will cater to the needs of our guests. What we want to happen is to be able to provide them the good life in Boracay,” says One MGM general manager Edwin Raymundo.

“We see ourselves becoming an entertainment hub in Boracay and a venue for local and international events. That way, we will also be able to create more jobs in the community,” Raymundo adds.

One MGM’s name, for those who are wondering, is no riddle. “MGM” stands for “My Greatest Moments,” and it is this premise (and promise) that the resort wants to fulfill.

“We see our guests remembering their greatest moments and memories while staying with us, so every aspect of our operation speaks of excellent service and products,” he says. “One MGM feels like retreating to one’s private heaven.”

Staying in the resort is just as exciting. It has three swimming pools and Wi-Fi access. Guests can indulge in indoor leisure activities such as table tennis, billiards, trampoline, and darts.

Even the quality of its food is a source of pride for One MGM. Since its opening in October 2007, One MGM’s loyal guests swear by the menu, which boasts of local and international fare. Never say no to the welcome drink: it is a One MGM original made of herbed lemonade, oranges, and cucumbers.

There are three food outlets: the Coffee Shop & Deli, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner; the Tryst Poolside Bar for cocktails, fresh juices, and snacks; and the Lobby Lounge for high tea, cocktails, and light meals.

In the evening, One MGM offers a value-for-money buffet dinner by the beach, complete with starters, main courses, desserts, and drinks. It is such a big hit in Boracay that it attracts 600 customers a night.

For those coming to Boracay with business in mind, One MGM boasts of a convention hall that can accommodate 500 people. Raymundo says more similar facilities are in the works.

But for now, One MGM has lined up these offerings for those looking for their ultimate Boracay adventure. Whether guests want to stay within the cozy property or enjoy the island’s unique charms, One MGM has got it all covered. Now that’s something to remember the next time Boracay harkens.

* * *

One MGM is located in Manggayad Manoc-Manoc, Station 2, Boracay, Malay, Aklan. For more information, call (02) 634-3581 to 83, log on to www.onemgmboracay.com or e-mail at sales@onemgmboracay.com.
View previous articles from this author.

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=462900&publicationSubCategoryId=87

What to do and not do in El Nido

Posted in Leisure, Resort and Park, Rest and Liesure, Tourism, Travel, Visayas by Erineus on May 7, 2009

By Ching M. Alano Updated May 03, 2009 12:00 AM

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Home sweet cottage: El Nido Resorts feature water cottages built on stilts amid limestone cliffs that are 250 million years old. Photos by Julius Fonte
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MANILA, Philippines – First off, the easiest and cheapest way to get to El Nido — that island

paradiso

a lot of people are raving about that’s masterfully carved by nature

at the northwestern tip of Palawan, located 430 km. southwest of Manila — is to be a Smart Infinity subscriber. Hello! Haven’t you heard of the dream vacation package (on top of a free phone) with a minimal cash-out (so minimal it won’t cause a meltdown in your pocketbook) that comes with being an Infinity Plan 5000 or 8000 subscriber? Now, stop dreaming and get Smart!

The most premium postpaid service in the country today targeted towards the A and upper B markets, Infinity was the first to launch a three-day/two-night vacation package and a sunset cruise in 2007. The package comes with the following freebies: daily buffet meals for two — breakfast, lunch, and dinner; island tour and water sports activities (snorkeling, island hopping, etc.), private boat transfers for El Nido Lagen and Miniloc; sunset cruise for two on the largest trimaran yacht in the Philippines, M/S Vianelle; and cocktails for two on a most romantic sunset cruise — cruise your heart and hope to die — catered by El Nido Resorts. Don’t you just love freebies?

From here to Infinity? Infinity first did it at the Nami Resort in Boracay. Now, they’re doing it in El Nido. So, to El Nido, we will go!

The first “do” when packing for a trip to El Nido: Do pack at least a piece of swimwear — it will come in handy if you’re going to a place that boasts 45 islands and islets. They will provide you with the rest of the paraphernalia if you want to engage in the assorted water sports like snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, hobie cat sailing, etc. With all these water activities, expect your stay at El Nido not to be dry.

Bright and early Saturday morning, we catch our Transvoyager flight for El Nido at A. Soriano Aviation Inc. hangar along Andrews Avenue, Pasay City (note: not at the Manila Domestic Airport). We’re welcomed to the passengers’ lounge that’s got so-comfy sofas that are great for lounging — or sleeping on. We enjoy canapés and coffee while waiting. Then we have our luggage and ourselves weighed. Tension fills the air as the girls in the group fuss about excess weight — that is, their unwanted pounds!

Flying time on the 19-seater, twin-engine Dornier (let’s call it LET) is approximately 75 minutes.

Twenty winks later, we arrive at the El Nido Airport and get an instant taste of Palawan hospitality via a group of women in native costume welcoming us with a song. We snack on palitaw and coffee as they transfer our luggage to the boat (on the way home, they would serve us some brown delicacy, causing somebody in the group to ask if the white palitaw was burned this time). A jeepney ride that takes faster than you can say El Nido takes us to our boat. The boat transfer to our destination, El Nido Resorts on Lagen Island, takes about 50 minutes while it’s only 40 minutes to Miniloc Island.

We get our first glimpse of Eden as we alight from our motorized outrigger wearing our life jackets, which would be de rigueur for us for the rest of our stay in El Nido. Amid the haze, the postcard-pretty El Nido Resort on Lagen, our home away from home for the next two days, beckons.

At El Nido, brace yourself for a truly wet and wild time. Do prepare to take a walk on the wild side. For El Nido is home to over a hundred bird species, around 200 species of fish, three species of the endangered sea turtles, some reptiles, and an awesome number of marine invertebrates. You’re bound to meet some of them — up close and personal now — during your stay at El Nido. So, do remember to take along your eco-checklist (it’s provided in your room) wherever you’re going. One of these wildlife creatures found in the crevices of limestone cliffs is the edible nest swiftlet from whose nest, made of its saliva and plastered on the walls of caves, El Nido gets its name. The very pricey nido or bird’s nest (a kilogram can fetch as much as $1,000) is touted for its health benefits, from curing asthma and improving your voice to raising the libido. But if you can’t afford the real thing, there’s always the instant nido soup — just remember to add one egg.

To rattle off the names of El Nido’s prized denizens from our eco-checklist: whale shark, parrot fish, clownfish with anemone, jack, blacktip reef shark, giant clam, crown-of-thorns, barrel sponge, feather star, sea urchin, Bryde’s Whale, bottlenose dolphin, Palawan squirrel, the long-tailed macaque, tabon scrubfowl, green sea turtle, hawksbill turtle, water monitor lizard, banded mangrove snake, grey imperial pigeon, Palawan hornbill, lesser frigatebird, eastern reef egret, white-breasted sea eagle, and black-naped tern.

I guess we’re not too much of a bird watcher — rather, we’re bored watchers — because we manage to spot only the Palawan hornbill, but it flies and gets away.

When in El Nido, do remember never to mess with the place’s dangerous creatures. Our very concerned and versatile tour guide Christopher Sugali (he also makes those pretty hats and animal art made of palm) shows us some pictures, like flash cards, and identifies each one: box jellyfish, crown-of-thorns, stingray, stonefish, sea anemone, sea snake, lion fish, fire coral, striped eel, jellyfish (its mere sight can give you the itch), sea urchin, moray eel.

One of the most important sites of biological diversity in the country, El Nido has been elevated by the government from a marine reserve to a protected area. The people of El Nido have an unflinching respect for their natural resources that they’re so abundantly blessed with. There are, for instance, the oh-so-awesome limestone cliffs, estimated to be 250 million years old. And there are the placid lagoons that the people of El Nido have kept crystal clear — so clear it’s to dive for.

The people of El Nido are such staunch guardians of their environment — and all the creatures, big and small, in it — that killing a pawikan (sea turtle) can send you to prison for life.

El Nido Resorts make ample use of what nature has to offer. When you check in at any El Nido Resorts property, you don’t have to pay extra for the ambience — you
don’t even have to order one. There are the water cottages built on stilts, the beachfront cottages with a perfect view of the entire Lagen Island cove, fringed by a thick forest, and the forest rooms and forest suites built on the fringes of a tropical forest. Needless to say, all the rooms have a view.

Likewise, El Nido Resorts minimize the use of plastic by not serving bottled water in the rooms (so please don’t look for one in the mini bar, but of course, there’s clean water in the thermos). More, the resorts, managed by Ten Knots Development Corporation, work closely with the El Nido community to ensure that there’s no illegal fishing, to promote coastal clean-ups and environmental education campaigns, to monitor snorkeling and dive sites, and to install and maintain mooring buoys.

To do our bit for the El Nido environment during our brief stay, we observe this big do and don’t: Do properly dispose of your litter and don’t pick up anything on the shore (there goes our shell collection).

Again, we hear this friendly reminder: Leave nothing but footprints (and please cut down on the carbon footprint), kill nothing but time, and take nothing but pictures.

Of course, we take these reminders to heart by turning off all the lights when we leave our room, not littering, taking all the pictures we possibly could, and killing as much time as we could at the clubhouse, where we while away the eternal hours drinking and singing to our hearts’ — and lungs’ — content (but perhaps not to the other guests’ content). Since there’s no TV in our room, we whip up our own entertainment. What, no TV? Yes, there’s no TV in paradise. Adam and Eve survived without one, didn’t they? Of course, they were much too preoccupied getting more than a bite of the forbidden fruit. But c’mon, you didn’t come here to watch the news on CNN or the gore on CSI, did you? If it’s any consolation, there’s a CD player in the room and you can rent your favorite music. And yes, there’s Wi-Fi so you can still catch up on Facebook.

El Nido is home not only to a most diverse wildlife but also to some of the most gracious people you’ll ever meet in your life. On day one, you’ll meet your very friendly guest activity coordinator who will tell you what activities you can enjoy on the islands. There’s kayaking in the secret lagoon. Or you can explore the caves on the isolated islands, take a mangrove tour, snorkel with the colorful tropical fishes, go rock climbing, go scuba diving. Or if your idea of getting physical is simply lifting a finger or jumping to conclusions, you can always just sunbathe, have a picnic lunch on a secluded beach, have a relaxing massage or spa treatment. Or just enjoy the scenery that’s worthy of the cover of National Geographic magazine — lots and lots of it. Take your pick.

At El Nido Resorts, you’ll also meet some of the kindest and most skilled boatmen who know the waves and whims of the sea like the back of their hand as well as the curves of the hills and the cliffs like they do the shapes of their women.

And then there’s Randy Lucas, the small town boy from Iloilo who made it big via singing in the big city. He’ll regale you with old songs that are much older than him as you sip your favorite drink at the al fresco bar of the clubhouse.

But how’s the food in paradise? Simply heavenly! There’s a different set of buffet dishes for lunch and dinner, which include Asian and Western favorites. There are crabs and prawns, among the day’s freshest catch. A hot favorite is the Mongolian grill, where you can have fun mixing and matching all the fresh stuff available on the island. The breads are baked fresh every day. Mangoes and other fruits in season are aplenty. And of course, there are the terrific calorific desserts. But do go easy on the latter as you don’t want to end up with excess baggage when you leave El Nido, do you?

Surely, you don’t have to be reminded of this final “do”: Do come back — again and again and again. For once the sand of El Nido touches the soles of your feet, your soul will never stop longing for it.

* * *

To inquire about Smart Infinity, call 0918888 (INFO) 4636. For inquiries on El Nido, call 750-7600 or 894-5644. Fax 810-3620, e-mail holiday@elnidoresorts.com or visit www.elnidoresorts.com.

View previous articles from this author.http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=463506&publicationSubCategoryId=87

Summer springs to life at Fuego Hotels

Posted in Hotel, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on May 7, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Long stretches of white sand, seaside suites and luxurious amenities awaits guests at 7STONES BORACAY SUITES. This brand new boutique hotel boasts of stunning roomy suites, tropical gardens, and breathtaking sights. Guests will get to enjoy its above-par facilities and superior service. The moment you set foot inside the plush hotel, a 25 meter lagoon type swimming pool with a Jacuzzi and a kiddy’s pool greets you. The swim-up pool bar offers a wide variety of refreshing cocktails, while the al fresco restaurant serves both local and international cuisine for those with distinctive palates. Located at the famous surfer’s paradise otherwise known as Bulabog beach, thrill-seekers and adventure lovers have an array of leisure activities to pick from. In 7Stones Boracay Suites, the possibilities are endless!

Also cradled under the umbrella of Fuego Hotels are: TAAL VISTA HOTEL in Tagaytay with its new suites and facilities. The recently opened East Wing features 133 new guestrooms and suites with views of the sprawling gardens and glimpses of Taal Volcano and Taal Lake; a Grand Ballroom ready for weddings and memorable get-togethers; multi-functional conference rooms and a breezy open terrace perfect for sipping freshly brewed coffee while basking in the cool mountain air of Tagaytay.

Up north in Clark, Pampanga, is the 8 months old HOTEL VIDA, the perfect antidote to the bustling nearby metropolis. Only an hour and half drive from Manila, this deluxe hotel is only 40 minutes drive to Subic via the Subic – Clark- Tarlac Expressway & 5 minutes from the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport. It is 5 minutes away from Mimosa Golf & Country Club & 3 mins away from duty free shops & casinos.

If you head out to Batangas, enjoy the energizing peninsula of CLUB PUNTA FUEGO, where unspoiled beaches and a vibrant summer culture produces a mind-boggling array of special events in the clubs many facilities from the Nelson Howard – designed executive golf course, the Punta Fuego Yacht Club to the white sands of Terrazas Beach Club. It should come as no surprise that diving, sailing, golf and water-sports are prime activities here.

Blessed with pristine white beaches and a picturesque island landscape, the world-renowned PEARL FARM BEACH RESORT is a haven where bliss calls. Experience a restful escape in its quaint guestrooms and villas perched on the water. Stretch out under the sun in the private white sand beach of Malipano Island or cool-off at the infinity pool. Go diving and discover hidden treasures under the waters around the island or have a soothing massage in the comfort of your own room.

For inquiries on the special summer offers and promotions please call Fuego Hotels at (632) 750-1999 or log on to www.fuegohotels.com

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I left my soul in pradise

Posted in Leisure, Mindanao, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on May 7, 2009

By Grace Glory Go With photos by GGG & Frances Lim Updated May 03, 2009 12:00 AM

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Pearl Farm’s F&B Manager, Marcel Tambis with GGG.

MANILA, Philippines – Ever since Pearl Farm opened in the southern part of the Philippines, with guestrooms, suites and cottages sprawled over the Samal group of islands that stretch out over a land area of 28,000 hectares, I have had an open invitation to visit this beach resort owned by the Floirendo family.

Well, months rolled by and even years! First, I was looking for time because The Philippine STAR was still at its infant stage and there were a hundred million things to do. Then, I was hoping to have interesting company join me to fully enjoy this rumored lovely resort. Finally, after nearly fifteen years, the young managing director of Fuego Hotels, Alfredo Roca, was able to entice me to make time to visit Pearl Farm.

Frances Lim, my favorite travel mate (because, aside from being a truly nice person, she also doesn’t snore…haha!), and I boarded PAL business class for Davao. It was the very first time for both of us to fly to Mindanao. We were surprisingly met by the personal speedboat of the even younger GM Karl Frederick Sims. Though Karl has a Chinese sounding surname, he is very much European, a mixture of German, Spanish, British?

Instead of the normal 45-minute boat transfer from the Pearl Farm Beach Resort’s Davao Marina to Samal Island, we were there with our hair and our skirts flying in a most enjoyable windy 15-20mins ride on the GM’s speedboat and welcomed personally by Karl. Not only was Karl there to welcome us, he had late lunch with us (very Spanish) and every meal thereafter in our two-day and two-night stay at Pearl Farm. (Of course, I’m never up for breakfast…hehe!)

We were given “le-grande tour” right after a leisurely buffet lunch, which gave us a chance to inhale the fresh air and exercise away some of the calories. Both Frances and I were surprised that Pearl Farm was much larger than we thought! Although we were partly driven around, we also had a chance to walk the grounds, which, aside from the famous Parola Wharf and Bar, consist of the Maranao swimming pool and restaurant, the Ylang Ylang soothing lounge, the salt water pond and the waterfalls near the Ylang Ylang Spa.

Aside from the numerous Samal houses standing on stilts alongside the waters of the white sand beach, there are two large hilltop buildings with a conference room and game room in between, and of course, it was occupied by a convention group! We also walked by the Mandaya House with its own pool and jacuzzi, and we were told that aqua sports, beach volleyball, jogging trails, tennis and basketball courts are all available depending on the guests preference.

Lucky for us, we were upgraded from the Samal suites, which were five-star in itself, to one of the seven exclusive villas of the resort nestled in the secluded island of Malipano located only a few hundred meters from the Samal Island. Frances and I were indeed fortunate to enjoy the private villa of Margie Moran-Floirendo, our former Miss Philippines who won as Miss Universe.

We were told that each of the villas belonged to one of the Floirendo children and each was decorated according to each of the children’s taste. We can both attest to the fact that Margie has six-star taste to our delight! We both felt totally spoiled as we luxuriated in this private villa and unadulterated island, with a view facing the Pacific Ocean that was both soothing and colourful to the canvass of our minds.

Although there are no restuarants on Malipano island, you can order room service, which we ended up doing on the afternoon of our departure for Davao City to spend a night at Marco Polo Davao owned by our family friends, Sonny and Bols Dominquez. Pearl Farm’s F&B manager, Marcel Tambis personally brought our orders on the speedboat inspite of a brief downpour due to a passing thunderstorm, and he also took special care to prepare all my meals due to my sensitivity to shellfish throughout my stay there.

But, of course, the sun shore most of the time we were there, and the Malipano island also has its own white sand beach. I thoroughly enjoyed soaking myself in its clean clear water while Frances tried to catch some sun on the diving deck.

One of the joys of sleeping in these villas at Pearl Farm is hearing the surf washing up and down the beach beneath your bedroom floor, lulling you to a sweet night’s sleep. Karl often teases me by text that I must return to pick up my soul because, only after two days in Pearl Farm’s Malipano Island, I can’t help but feel that I had left my soul right there in paradise.

View previous articles from this author.

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