By Ching M. Alano Updated May 03, 2009 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – First off, the easiest and cheapest way to get to El Nido — that island
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.
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By Grace Glory Go With photos by GGG & Frances Lim Updated May 03, 2009 12:00 AM
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.
Seeing something majestic almost always leaves people speechless, even breathless! At least that was exactly how I felt the instant I laid my sights on Davao’s rich aquatic resources, and more. The experience is utterly difficult to translate into words when none of it would ever suffice to describe its beauty and splendor.
Located in the Southern Mindanao region, journalists had a sneak-peak of Davao city’s teeming natural wonders from underwater to above the surface landscapes in a “Dive the Gulf” adventure sponsored by the Department of Tourism (DoT) recently. A three-day escapade to a paradise waiting to be explored that sent us chasing the thrill of adventure on the island and the adrenaline rush in the highlands.
DAY 1: INTRO DIVE
For someone who doesn’t know how to swim, it would seem like a challenge to submerge one’s self into the open waters of Samal Island, the best site for underwater adventure. But no. It’s rarely a requirement. All one needs is a brave heart.
According to Wind and Wave dive master Randy Pascua, it’s a common misconception for first timers (like us!) but dive masters are competent enough to wade for two. Just don’t forget to breathe through the air regulator.
Our first dive site was at Marissa Reef, named after Marissa Florendo who was one of the proponents of underwater photography in Davao of which Pascua is a member of the auxiliary team. It is an underwater mountain with a sudden drop that could send diving neophytes into panic. I guess I was lucky to have reached 15 feet.
Likewise, buried in the deep waters of Samal Island are World War II Japanese battle vessels that go as deep as 90 to 115 feet, making it ideal for shipwreck dives.
“This location is ideal for macro diving, or underwater photography adventures. Underneath, there are a lot of water species still unnamed and are yet to be discovered,” injects dive master Johny Lee of the Hongkong Technical Diving Association. Lee has been traveling back and forth to the Philippines, specifically in Cebu and Hongkong at least thrice a month to teach scuba diving to a variety of students. Right now, they’re looking at the prospect of bringing his students to Samal Island to explore its diverse marine life.
DAY 2: LIKE A PRO, ALMOST
There are more than 23 dive sites in Samal Island that opened up to the public in 1993. Apart from Marissa Reef, the Coral Garden located in Talikud Island, just five minutes away from the beach is the next most visited site. It is an underwater cliff that spreads up to a five-kilometer stretch of corals boasting of colorful underwater vistas. To get there, boats and launches are available at Sta. Ana Wharf and km. 11 Wharf in Sasa.
Acclimatized and confident this time with what to expect and how to solve the common problem of water getting into my swimming mask, as well as dealing with the constant buzzing in my ear each time the dive master goes a notch down, this writer was able to reach up to 22 feet and enjoyed every minute of the less than an hour dive. Clown fish and dory became my best pals as they played with me at the palm of my hand. Also spotted were nudi branch, a tiny fish that crawls underwater, a sea turtle that was swiftly swimming away, and a pygmy seahorse, pregnant one at that!
The experience was exhilirating! Thus, I couldn’t help but ask, how much would a person need to do it all over again? According to Rhea Delfinado, one of the dive guards for Wind and Wave, their services for introductory dive costs P750.00 per head that includes underwater photos, souvenir shirt, food on board, briefing session and 30 to 45 minutes actual underwater dive. Likewise, the group holds three-day certificate dive for those who are interested to teach diving lessons and making it a living. Check out their website at http://www.windandwavedavao.com/home.php.
BACK ON LAND
On the second night, we were treated to a slight detour of conquering the depths and heights of Davao in a feast called Caracoles Festival held at Sta. Ana Wharf. It was the first time in many years that the celebration was held in a different venue as it was previously done in Samal Island from sunset to sunrise.
The occassion proved to be an interesting one with various designers competition that aims to promote the national government’s advocacy campaign of preserving the environment.
The group was met by Davao’s tourism regional director Sonja Garcia who explained the organization’s ongoing efforts.
“Davao Gulf is a hotspot which means areas that have marine mammal strandings and they are declared marine protected areas. It is also included in the Coral Triangle Initiative along with Indonesia and Malaysia. Thus, we’re doing our best to preserve it not only for tourists but for the future generations as well,” Garcia tells.
DAY 3: ENTERING THE GARDEN OF EDEN
There are many other wonderful adventures to engage in while in Davao. Apart from scuba diving, the city offers water tubing in Sibulan River in Davao del Sur and caving in Kapalong Davao del Norte.
But for a more sedate kind of exploit, I suggest visiting Eden Nature Park for an adrenaline rush, cool weather and organic food.
The 60-hectare expanse owned by Jesus Ayala boasts of a thriving forest area that serves as an animal sanctuary, and a plethora of lush flora, mangosteen orchard, giant ferns, macademia and native durian trees. Located in Mount Tolomo within the administrative district of Toril, it is currently one of the greenest ecological tourist spots in the Philippines.
In addition, tourists and guests can enjoy comfortable villas, cottages, and rooms, where they can stay overnight while enjoying the beautiful sights all over the place.
And while there, don’t fail to try the “Skyrider”, a 60-feet, 200-meter zip line ride that can’t easily be found in other travel destinations. The tagline wasn’t lying when it said, “Heaven is a little closer in Eden.”
By Lester Gopela Hallig Updated May 01, 2009 12:00 AM
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.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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By Antonieta Lopez Updated May 01, 2009 12:00 AM
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines — Filipinos on leisure travel to domestic destinations are contributing much to the growth of the country’s tourism industry.
Tourism Secretary Ace Durano said more financially able Filipinos are now choosing local destinations over foreign trips, hence softening the blow of the global crisis on the tourism industry.
Arrivals from markets like the United States and Japan have significantly dropped since last year, he said. Yet the slowdown from these premium markets was compensated by increasing domestic travel and steady visits from the nationals of France, Russia and China, he said.
Citing data for the first two months, Durano noted an increase of 30 percent of French arrivals; Russians, 40 percent; and Chinese, 60 percent.
“More of the markets that are important to us remain strong,” Durano said.
Domestic travel, at the same time, has grown by 18 percent every year since 2005 when it contributed P800 million to the total tourism traffic, he added.
Durano, who delivered the keynote address at the opening of the 16th Panaad sa Negros Festival here, said the challenge for the sector remains on how to develop more destinations.
“It is not enough that we have tourism attractions. We need to transform them into destinations so as to encourage both foreign and domestic tourists,” he stressed.
Durano lauded Gov. Isidro Zayco and the provincial government of Negros Occidental by accepting the challenge and continuing to reinvent the festival every year.
“The beauty of Panaad is that it is more than a festival. It is an exposition of what Negros Occidental can offer all year round,” he added.
He also noted efforts to develop Sipalay City, south of this city, which was once referred to by President Arroyo as the “Boracay of Negros” with its long stretch of white sand beaches and dive spots.
Durano said there is a lot of investments going on in Sipalay addressing the need for more accommodations and other infrastructure.
“When there are accommodations, tourists will come,” he said.
Panaad sa Negros is an annual event participated in by 13 cities and 19 towns of the province held at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Alijis, Bacolod City. Panaad is the Hiligaynon word for “vow” or “promise” and is a form of thanksgiving to the Divine Providence and realization of a vow in exchange for a good life.
Updated May 01, 2009 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – Quezon City’s largest hotel, the Imperial Palace Suites, is offering sweet treats for moms on Mother’s Day.
Dubbed “Suite Treats,” this unique delight offers luxury suite accommodations, including special dinner for two, unlimited Wi-Fi access, gift pack from Finesse and Fluocaril, free use of the gym and swimming pool, and a raffle stub for exciting prizes.
All these come with a night’s stay at the Imperial Palace Suites — P3,750 for the Classic Studio Suite, P4,350 for the one-bedroom suite, and P5,100 for the two-bedroom suite.
This preferred hotel in Quezon City also offers “Special Dinner at the Peak” for only P660++ per person. The menu includes Cream of Asparagus Soup, Greek a la Athens Salad, Chicken Veronic or Shrimp Provencale, Glazed Vanilla Ice Cream, and Mumtini Cocktail.
“Each mom also gets a long-stemmed rose from Imperial Palace Suites,” said sales and marketing director Yvonne Villacorte.
For every minimum purchase of P1,000, she said diners are entitled to a raffle stub for a chance to win an overnight accommodation for two at Caylabne Bay Resort.
The promo rates are valid only from May 4 to 10.
Associated with Mercure Hotels under Accor and located at the corner of Tomas Morato and Timog avenues, this Wi-Fi-ready hotel has 207 well-appointed guest rooms with living, dining and kitchen facilities, keycard locking system, multilingual cable TV, mini-bar, and in-room safety deposit box.
The hotel features many other amenities, including a fully equipped business center, six meeting rooms with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment for corporate and social events and a seating capacity of up to 500 guests, foreign currency exchange, an outdoor rooftop swimming pool, poolside bar, four food and beverage outlets, fitness and health facilities, massage center, basement parking, and CCTV security monitors.
Homeowners can significantly extend the life of major household appliances by observing preventive maintenance. This helps keep devices running as smoothly and as long as possible. Repairs cost money but replacing a major appliance can really dent one’s budget.
Save thousands of pesos with these preventive maintenance tips shared by Orland Rivera and Rodel Villamor of Western Marketing, Festival Mall Alabang branch and main office, respectively; Joel Tiu of Ansons Makati: and Robert Rosete of eShop Computers in Alabang, Muntinlupa.
A word of caution: always remember to disconnect plugs from the power source before you start cleaning.
Washing machine – Make sure this is set up on an even flat surface. Unbalanced machines cause uneven distribution of wash loads and may cause the appliance to “walk” or move little by little, which can eventually damage the barrel.
Don’t load your wash to above the maximum capacity (i.e., stick to 5.5 kg or less if your machine says 5.5 kg!). Every six months, check the hose for leaks and kinks, and replace promptly if needed as cracked hoses waste water. Periodically clean the lint screen by turning it inside out and washing it with soap and warm water to eliminate buildups. Check the hose vent for clogs.
Refrigerator – After delivery of a new ref, wait at least eight to 10 hours before plugging in. Let the Freon settle down first. If you live in areas where electricity fluctuates, protect your ref with an auto-voltage regulator (AVR).
Don’t load too many food items inside the ref; this makes the blower work harder. Twice a year, clean the condenser coils located either at the back (for older models) or the front (newer models have grills that cover the coils near the bottom) of your ref.
When defrosting freezers, never scrape ice from the walls to avoid damaging the appliance. Merely turn off the ref and remove all the food. Clean the ref’s interior while you’re at it. To check the gasket, close the door on a piece of paper and pull. If it easily slides out, it’s time to replace the seal.
Air conditioner – Always follow the rule of starting the aircon in fan setting for a minimum of three minutes before turning it up to high-cool to avoid overworking the compressor. Sustain airflow by cleaning the filter monthly with soapy water and a soft toothbrush. Wipe the exterior with a damp cloth and remove all debris from the central air unit to maximize air current.
Electric fan – Once a week, remove and clean the blade and grills. If you are adept at dismantling things, you can remove the shaft and apply industrial grease/oil to postpone wear and tear of the bushing parts. Let the grease dry for about three hours before using the unit again so the oil won’t enter the motor.
Television and DVD player – Avoid placing the TV near a window where splashes of rain could damage the circuits. Wipe the exterior with a damp cloth. Clean DVD players using a commercial disk cleaner once a month and remember to wipe CDs thoroughly with a soft, non-abrasive cloth before playing. Take good care of the remote controls as well.
Microwave – Never put any metals inside (and that includes aluminum foil!) and don’t let splattered food stay inside for long. Use only microwavable dishes for heating. Before cleaning, heat a cup of water with a teaspoon of baking soda in a bowl for three minutes. This makes it easy to wipe off all sticky food particles with a sponge or soft cloth right after. Don’t forget to clean the door gasket too.
Rice cooker – Dry the bottom of the pot before putting it over the hot plate every time you cook rice. Position the cooker on a flat, even surface. Clean up any overflow on the sides right after cooking.
Electric air pot – Always boil water at the correct water level. Avert or remove hard water deposits by pouring pure white vinegar just above the water stain. Boil in one cycle, leave overnight, then clean as usual. Remind members of the family to gently press on the controls so as not to damage the pads.
Avoid abusing and misusing your appliances so that they last longer. By finding time to make preventive maintenance a habit, you not only get the most out of your home appliances, you also save money in the process. In this case, the old maxim “an ounce of prevention” is certainly “better than a pound of cure.”
(This article is from MoneySense, the country’s first and only personal finance magazine. Visit http://www.moneysense.com.ph for more.)