I was stirred to consciousness at 5:30 a.m. You know that fog you wake up sometimes when you are mildly confused as to what day it is? Maybe you thought it was a workday and it just happened to be Saturday. I was in a small concrete room, on the floor, on a thin foam rubber mat. A fan whined nearby giving some comfort from the humid air. There were bars on the window from my second story confines.
I could hear strange voices and the sound of footsteps outside my door! Was I in prison? Heck no! It was my first morning visiting my wife’s family in the Philippines.</div>
When I stepped out the door I was greeted by her uncle Augusto. He is a morning person and a happy Filipino having his first American guest. He said “Good Morning, would you like some Kape?”. I said sure not really knowing what it was but hoping it was just coffee. I went outside on the porch and quickly got ready for the day, a quick shave, washed my face from a small sink they have outside all the while being greeted by stares from various rooters who were on the job waking their owners! In a short while her uncle returned with a cup in his hand.
I can remember negotiating the stairs that led to the ground floor sipping on this hot beverage thinking to myself “this isn’t coffee, it’s more like hot chocolate”. He led me to the dining room, a small area about 6′x6′ with a handmade table with an oilcloth table cloth. He offered me a small bread or roll called “Pandesal” and we went to the street.
The Kape was sweet and warm, the bread was hot with melted margarine. The street was filling up in this sleepy little village as people stirred out of their homes. I had stumbled on one of this towns local traditions or routines. It seems at least for a little while in the morning people will come out early and chat with their neighbors in the street. They have polite conversation with each other collectively greeting the new day. One can see the small uniformed children rushing around, laughing and boarding their transportation on their way to school.
We tarried outside for maybe 15 minutes. I met smiling neighbors petted a small dog, and waved at cheerful children as they made their way to school! All in all, not a bad way to start the day!

What can I take away from this experience? Hmmm, maybe it’s cool to slow down a little and enjoy people and the time we have here. I think we, as Americans live our lives at twice the sound of Stupid!! Hey, we grew up here, this is what we know. I would offer that we should take a little time to examine our daily routine. Is this how you really want to live? As I get older the weeks fly past faster than ever. I remember like 5 minutes ago it was Sunday night and I was dreading Monday! It is now Friday and the week was spent like a Black Friday outing!
If you were to plan the perfect day what would it look like? It is time we live life on purpose instead of drifting downstream without a rudder hoping against hope that someone will throw us a lifeline. I hate to break it to you but your the captain here, it’s up to you to do something! I often think of planning the perfect day. How would it appear? Just list some things you want to get done everyday, not at to do list but a priority list. What is important to you? What are the things you know you should take time to do but are putting off?

Make your list, do your list and repeat! Just take time to live on purpose!

Kape ingredients: Don’t laugh when you read this, just try it once. One tablespoon Nescafe Clasico, two tablespoons brown sugar, two tablespoons CoffeeMate! There you have it.

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Supercat Ferry

Travel by Ferry in the Philippines is a great way to experience the way the locals travel. It is very economical and also a fun way to travel. When planning my trip, I knew I was going to have to go from Iloilo to Bacolod.

I Google searched available ferries and found they leave Iloilo several times a day going to Bacolod and it is about a 45 minute trip.

It was another one of those mornings that you always dread. You see we had been staying with my wife’s family for about five days. We always stay with them when traveling to the Philippines. We have a great time, get close once again to all the kids and then inevitably the end comes. This was one such morning. We hadn’t been there for about three years. Here we were leaving again. That morning is always a somber one. Last time the little ones didn’t even want to get out of bed because they knew we were leaving.

It sounds hard but I have found that the less said the better unless you want a real emotional tear jerker. I find it hard to even look at the kids that last day. We loaded our backpacks into the Sikad and headed towards the main road to hail a taxi that would take us to the Port.

It was a steamy morning in Pavia combined with the emotions of the departure I found myself wondering what lied ahead because I had never been on a ferry like the one I was about to ride.

We got the taxi and journeyed to the Port where we would buy tickets. We had decided to only take what we could carry this trip. We had purchased back packs this trip and vowed that we would be traveling light. It’s always interesting when on a new adventure in the Philippines. We hadn’t done this before and did not really know the ropes.

We arrived at the “Ocean Jet” station and spied the ticket window. I made my wife get the tickets. A little trick I always use because she knows the language and it makes it a lot easier.

It never ceases to amaze me how muggy it gets in the Philippines. It always seems when you are in a new or confusing situation that the heat and humidity help play a role in escalating the stress level a bit. We purchased the tickets and basically stood around looking dumb for a while. Something just didn’t feel right.

I was getting that feeling I often get in the Philippines when you suspect that maybe you don’t have all the information that you need ..
I had already been tricked once by these gentle people on a trip to Banaue. We stood outside in the sun and the heat feeling confused when the “good Filipina” at the counter prodded us to go inside the building and wait for the ferry. I thought it would have been nice if she would have included that little bit of info earlier and save us the sauna bath that we were now experiencing. It seems sometimes that in the Philippines that you are kept on a “need to know” basis most of the time.

We entered the departure waiting room to find a dark, dank, dirty room filled with plastic chairs.

To say it was air-conditioned would be stretching the truth a little.

Of course their definition of cool and mine are not always the same. It really sounds like I am complaining and maybe I am a little but I really do love traveling the Philippines I just marvel at the way things are done. The restroom facilities were basic. By basic I mean almost non-existent. One door led the way through and then two door separated the guys from the girls. Both doors were raised up like on a platform. I entered the lalaki (men’s) room to find that the door would not latch. Of course it was extremely filthy. It was not that it wouldn’t latch that bothered me, it was that the door wouldn’t even close while I was trying to make use of the room.

Boarding the Ferry is always an experience.  I think that there are two schools of thought when it comes to getting in line.  I have observed this in the Philippines and it seems to be consistent throughout. 

One group thinks it’s OK to sneak, cheat and jump line with no concern as to who was here first.

It seems as long as no one objects they will go all the way to the front.  These folks aggravate me to no end.  The boldness of these people amazes me.  For such a “polite culture” there are always these opportunist that show up at every event.  I usually resort to a Kano blocking technique.  If they are bold enough to try to get through, I am bold enough to stand right in their way.  If they still try, I will continue to block them and then to engage them by looking directly in their eyes.  That way they know that I know what they are up to and they will back off at that point.  That tactic will usually work.

The second camp is different entirely from the first.

They will usually sit and wait for the call to board.  They may have waited for an hour but then all of a sudden realize it’s time to get on board.  They then will get out in the aisle and exchange hugs, say goodbye to friends or relatives.  Maybe re-sort their baggage.  All of these things could be done prior to leaving but they choose to wait till the end and stand in the middle of the aisle blocking would be boarders of their chance to get a good seat!

Inside a Super Ferry

We boarded the Ocean Jet and were on our way.  The ride on these things is pretty cool.  They boats are in very decent shape and the overall experience is pretty nice.  It is amazing how cheap it is to travel in the Philippines.  The 45 minute ride cost us each around three dollars. 

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Sitting in an street side restaurant called “Andoks” in Baguio. I had slept little, my head bobbing up and down on the bus ride and this little roadside oasis was just the place to enjoy one of the “everyday” sights in the Philippines.

It had been a rough week so far. Delayed in Hong Kong, arrived in Manila at 6:30 a.m. Spent the Day with my asawa’s Aunt. I hadn’t had any sleep on the plane (Valium?, where were you?). Up all day in Manila then left from the bus station at 10:45 p.m. on the first leg of our trip to Banaue. It’s funny what really strikes you when you’ve had little sleep for four days.
Most people who live in the Philippines would see this fellow and just take it in stride. I had been away from the Philippines for 3 years and was ready to experience all that the Philippines had to offer. I spotted him as I sat at my table, he was across the street just trying to make a living on a beautiful crisp Baguio morning.

I say crisp because even though I had only landed in the country 24 hours previous, I had experienced the sweltering Manila heat. This 65 degree respite was just what I was looking for.

Anyone knows, especially if you are a westerner, that if you even look in a vendor’s direction in the Philippines, he is likely to try to sell you something. I had acknowledged him with a quick head nod and he responded just like I knew he would. Even so, I was ready for something uniquely Filipino by now. You see I had never eaten Taho, I had seen them sell it, I had seen it on YouTube but never tasted the fare that was now coming across the street toward me.

We had eaten already at Andok’s so this was going to be dessert Filipino Style..

As you see in the video he was an expert at service. We bought two, he packed up and left. All in all it was just what I was looking for now that I was back in the country again. As I like to call it, a little “Street Level Living”, in the Philippines.

If you want a little info on Taho and it’s ingredients you might look here. I’m not saying it has the most delicious taste in the world but as those who love this country often say, “Only in The Philippines”.

I know some of you who have visited the Philippines or now live there have some stories of things that really hit you when you first got there, or maybe you grew up there and can recall something your remember and love that you can’t get anywhere else. 

Please leave a comment below if this is the case.  I’d love to hear your story. 

Don’t forget to subscribe via email for future updates.  I promise you your next Adobo will taste better if you do!

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The Philippines’ largest national flag carrier, Cebu Pacific is set to begin direct services from Iloilo to Hong Kong, Singapore, Puerto Princesa and General Santos this November, making Iloilo the airline’s 5th hub in the Philippines.

Cebu Pacific currently operates direct services from Iloilo to Manila, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Davao.

Starting November 8, 2012, Cebu Pacific will launch twice weekly flights from Iloilo to Hong Kong, and four weekly flights from Iloilo to General Santos. It will also add one Iloilo-Manila daily service on the same day, making it a 7 times daily Iloilo-Manila service.

On November 9, 2012, Cebu Pacific will also launch thrice weekly flights from Iloilo to Singapore and thrice weekly flights from Iloilo to Puerto Princesa. The airline will also launch thrice weekly flights from Cagayan de Oro to Bacolod on the same day.

“We are proud to launch Iloilo as our 5th hub, since these new routes will greatly contribute to the tourism and trade in Western Visayas. Direct international flights also mean easy access for foreign tourists and overseas Filipino workers, since there will be no more need to pass through Manila or Cebu,” said Cebu VP for Marketing and Distribution Candice Iyog.

“These new routes are in time for the delivery of three more brand-new Airbus A320 aircraft in the 2nd half of 2012. Cebu Pacific will continue to stimulate travel to, from and within the Philippines with the most extensive route network and trademark lowest fares,” she added.

To introduce the new routes, Cebu Pacific holds a seat sale until July 19, 2012 or until seats last. This is for travel from November 8 to January 31, 2013.

Passengers can buy P488 all-in seats from Iloilo to General Santos or Puerto Princesa, and from Cagayan de Oro to Bacolod. They may also book P1,488 all-in seats from Iloilo to Hong Kong or Singapore.

“Passengers can take advantage of this seat sale as it covers the peak travel period from November to January. This will greatly benefit those coming home for the holidays, or planning Christmas vacations for family and friends,” Iyog said.

I am really excited to see Cebu Pacific do this.
  For all my friends in Iloilo we will have a great way to get to Palawan.  I really wanted this option when I was in the Philippines in April and May.  Wanted to go to Palawan in the worst way but because it was going to be so expensive I discovered Bantayan Island of the coast of Cebu. 

I will have to say that the Philippines is really coming up as of late.  I started traveling there in 2007 and I have seen tremendous growth in all areas. 

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Considering a trip to the Philippines?  This post is a sneak peek into how I secure airline tickets to the Philippines. 

I have had good and bad experiences when trying to buy tickets to the Philippines and I have found that there are several factors to consider when making this purchase.  I will say right now before we get started that I am not an expert in any sense but do know a little about it. 

The first time we (me and my wife Flora) bought tickets through a broker or travel agent that was recommended by a Filipina that we knew.  We ended up getting a paper ticket and the price was OK but I would never buy a paper ticket again.  In the computer age that we live in it is much better to buy an e-ticket because this makes the check in process soooo much smoother.  That paper ticket was a pain in the, well.. you know..

The moral to the story is not to necessarily trust a friend when purchasing tickets to the Philippines unless you know that they are a very experienced traveler and have researched the process thoroughly.

Some may not trust online companies who sell tickets online.  I would disagree.  I have found much success online using travel search engines when purchasing tickets.  You can try them all if you like.  In my experience you won’t find that much difference in the major companies that sell tickets to the Philippines online.  I think common sense should rule you decisions here.

Below I will review at least three companies that I have had some extensive knowledge using. 

Cheap Tickets:

The site is pretty routine.  I mean you can go in and check out prices with ease.  Simply fill out the dates that you would like and hit the button.  The site will return to you a decent price for your flight.  Select, enter your credit card into and you are off to the races.  Over all I would score it a 7 out of a possible 10.  Why?  Search options.  When buying a ticket to the Philippines you need to search flexible dates to find the cheapest flight.  There simply are other sites that are more user-friendly.

Kayak:

I just went to this site again to refresh my memory.  I have heard great things about this site from some well-traveled folks.  It is insanely user-friendly.  I will give them that.  It has the best “Flexible Dates” option that I have seen.  This feature is almost a magic bullet when selecting a flight to the Philippines.  I like the Kayak site, you can see a month at a time with all the prices of the dates you selected.  I think overall it is a good travel tool.  For some reason I have never booked with Kayak.  I think I have always found a little better price or choice of airline on another site.

Orbitz:

Orbitz is a site that I have went back to again and again for my travel needs.  For some reason I have had good luck with Orbitz.  I don’t think they are quite as easy to navigate as Kayak but I do like the selection of airlines that usually comes up when I search.  This is very important because you better be satisfied with the airline, remember you are going to be on it for a long time.  Orbitz seem to use Cathay Pacific a lot on their site.  This is a Hong Kong based airline.  I have always been happy with Cathay Pacific.  Their service is second to none.  The moment you are in their charge you can sit back and relax enjoying the great service they provide.  You may find a little cheaper price on other airlines but I’m telling you, Cathay is the way to go to the Philippines.

 

Other things to consider.  Airlines are in business to make money.  There is a great swing in supply and demand for airline tickets.  My advise would be to spend some time checking all the months of the year and find your cheapest tickets.  When you search this way, you can build your vacation around the least expensive rates.

If you have never been to the Philippines and are seriously wanting to go, be sure to understand about the changes in climate.  They have rainy season that starts in June to September/October.  Of late the weather patterns in the Philippines have been very unpredictable.  You would do well to look at where you are going and shape your travel plans accordingly.

If you have any questions or comment please contact me below.  I love to get comments and will help you in any way I can.

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How to Hail a Taxi in The Philippines/How Not To Get Ripped Off

July 13, 2012

This post is dedicated to all those who will travel by taxi when in the Philippines. You need not be scared or intimidated when trying to get a taxi/ negotiate a fare when in the Philippines.  A few simple rules will go a long way.  I subscribe to a little saying that makes sense  when [...]

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Disaster at HK International

July 5, 2012

All is well on our travels from Cape Girardeau, MO to St. Louis, MO went somewhat according to plan. Despite the fact that the “plane” we were on from Cape to St. Louis was a twin-engine prop job. I think Nissan van quietly sitting in my garage at home has more technology and horsepower than [...]

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Amazing Race Philippines

April 22, 2012
Thumbnail image for Amazing Race Philippines

No, Not Really.  I’m not a part of the new Amazing Race Philippines version.  As I write this I am anxious to go.  In two days I will be leaving again going back to the Philippines.  I have waited for this day for so long.  This time we are going to travel light.  We are [...]

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Lose Your Ass, Live Like a Rock Star in The Philippines

May 2, 2011

Unlikely scenario right? Mindanao Bob (Bob Martin) says it aint so! At the tender age of 38 years young, Bob moved to the Philippines in May of 2000. He came to Mindanao with $100,000 in his pocket hoping to live for many years. I like the way he puts it in his book 49 Ways [...]

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The Purple Panda

May 1, 2011

I sit here sipping hot tea… been enjoying a new blog called “The Purple Panda” This blog is different.  She (Janet) is an American born Filipino.  She left Portland, Oregon to discover her roots and maybe a whole lot more about herself. I first heard about her through another friend, Ashlee Ambirge from “The Middle [...]

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Party Time Philippines!

May 1, 2011

A Sneak Peak At “The Filipino Party” A Filipino party is a unique experience.  No matter where you are from in the Philippines, it is almost always the same.  Filipino’s know how to have fun! It’s the first time my wife has seen her cousin in 15 years.  This could be anywhere in the world [...]

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5 Best Reasons To Travel To The Philippines

February 10, 2011

I think often about the Philippines.  Right now I feel as though I am stranded in a foreign country merely waiting for that wonderful day when I can go home again. I begin to ponder exactly why I am so attracted to such a dirty and wonderful place.  I must give my top ten reasons [...]

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I Love The Smell Of Pollution In The Morning

January 11, 2011

The smell of the city hit us like an unfortunate fall, the kind that happens so fast by the time that you are on the ground you have to ask yourself “What just happened?”.

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France Modifies Travel Advisory For The Philippines

November 28, 2010

  I can’t believe France is taking the lead on this!  France has never been my favorite country politically but I certainly welcome their relaxation of the travel advisory.  I feel it is time for the U.S. to step up and smell the coffee!  It pisses me off!, I mean the arrogance of the U.S. to [...]

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Don’t Travel To The Philippines! Ever!

November 5, 2010

Don’t ever travel to the Philippines! Also Believe everything you read in the papers and see on T.V.

Always believe everything you hear that conforms to your current world view, anything outside of that couldn’t possibly be true! Could it?

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Bayanihan

October 30, 2010

Just a little story about the Bayanihan Dancers, the most famous dance group in the Philippines. It is truly good theatre.

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Guimaras? In your Future?

October 8, 2010

   Sorry for all the Textbook like info to follow but I was doing a little research on Guimaras island and wanted to share it with you.  I have not been there yet but it is on the top of my list this time.  I want to experience the “eco-friendly” resorts while staying there.  The [...]

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Philippines Road Trip

September 28, 2010

I long for the minute when I land on Philippine soil. My soul reaches out and longs for Filippino Street food and a cold San Miguel. The lingering sound of a tricycle and the smell of Filipino style street living keeps calling me back. To the American senses the first experience of Street Level Living is alot to take in and maybe too much for some. As I sit here and write my mind drifts off to a place that is simply magic to me.

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Philippine Travel through the eye of a White Guy

August 29, 2010

Philippine travel. Cheap travel in the Philippines. Live the Adventure!

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I’m Homesick For a Philippines Fix

August 16, 2010

Life can Be A Beach In the Philippines.

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Pinoy Food… Masarap!

July 24, 2010

Pinoy Foods! My first real experience. Pampanga Philippines!

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The Philippines Project

July 20, 2010

A little story about how “The Philippiines Project” came about. We should always evolve as human beings!

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Street Level Living Philippines

June 22, 2010

“Life in the Philippines is Raw and Real” Get a small picture of “Street Level Living”.
Don’t know what a “Jeepney” is? Enter within!

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Philippines Airlines Getting Much Needed Facelift

July 24, 2012

Back in May of this year (2012) San Miguel President Ramon Ang vowed to turn the unprofitable Philippine Airlines around.  After purchasing 49% of the airline and securing management control President Ang is betting San Miguel Corp can turn a looser into a winner. Air travel in southeast Asia has been exploding of late due [...]

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Wild Road Trip, Manila to Banaue Rice Terraces, Buyer Beware

July 21, 2012

  When planning my last trip to the Philippines, I decided that The Banaue Rice Terraces were a must see this time. I did some research on how to get from Manila to Banaue Rice Terraces.  There is a lot of free travel advice on the internet these days. I read something on the Internet [...]

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East Germany? Banaue Philippines? Coincidence?

July 15, 2012

People you meet on the road. I’m sure if you’ve done any travel, you have met some interesting characters. Andy is a young scruffy backpacker dude from East Germany. I met him after an all-night bus ride to Baguio City, Philippines. Sitting in the open air café/restaurant named “Ondocks”, it was 65 degrees, a welcome [...]

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