Showing posts from February, 2013

Hotel Review: Boracay Holiday Resort

We stayed in the Boracay Holiday Resort the last time we sent to Boracay. The hotel - composed of several Mediterranean inspired buildings - is located in Station 2, about 5 minutes from White Beach. We stayed here for three nights, coming in Thursday evening and checking out Sunday noon. 
The reception area is in a building facing a side street, which also contains the dining area. Passing through here will lead you to a courtyard, which is enclosed by three more buildings where the guest rooms are located. Within the courtyard is a pool and the bar area.
Rooms We were billeted at a deluxe room located in the third floor, at the far end, with one side facing the main road of the island. The room was rather sparse, with a queen-sized bed, a CRT television with cable programming, a small fridge, and a small table with two chairs. There's no couch. The bathroom is spartan, with just a shower, a sink and a commode, nothing fancy. The room is airconditioned.
One thing we noticed is that …

White Beach, Boracay

Boracay, an island located just northwest of Panay island, in central Philippines, is always what comes to mind when I think of island getaways. And the island's main beach and the primary destination, simply called  White Beach, is for me is the quintessential beach destination.

Stretching for more than four kilometers at the island's west side, White Beach is a sight to behold. The sugary white sand beach is wide as it is long, covering the area between the the aquamarine shore and the clumps of coconut trees lining the beach. Due to the absence of iron, the sand never gets hot, even at midday when the sun is high up, making it enjoyable to walk on the beach even at high noon. 

The trip to the island last weekend was my third; I first went to Boracay in 1999, and again in 2007. The second one was actually what set off my wanderlust that continues up to this day. 

It is said that Alex Garland got his inspiration from Boracay (and Coron) when he wrote the backpacker novel The Bea…

Cliff Diving and Kayaking at Ariel's Point

It was almost like the course offering of my university's European Languages department. The passengers of our boat were predominantly European: a Polish couple, a Brit backpacker, a few Russians, and a bunch of boisterous French guys plus a few Koreans and several Malaysians, rounded out the international bunch. The destination: Ariel's Point. The objective: cliff diving.
Ariel's Point is actually a part of Buruanga, a small fishing town in the province of Aklan. It is about 30 minutes by boat from Boracay, and it is our first destination on the four-day trip to paradise. Facing the Sulu Sea, Ariel's Point has many karst outcropping that made it ideal for cliff diving. Five cliff diving sites at various heights were built on a clearing at the top of the karst cliff. 
The highest jump off point - which has a wooden plank jutting out to the sea - is 15 meters high, the next 8 meters, then 5, and the lowest at 3 meters from the sea level. Stairs were built at the sides of …

In Pictures: Inside the Met Museum

For this week's In Pictures I will highlight the treasures inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the people who patronize the museum.
The Met Museum, located in the Museum Mile of New York, is one of the largest museums in the world, and also one of the most visited. Only the Louvre can boast of higher number of visitors.

The number of treasures found within the Met is vast, and I'm sure that I haven't even scratched the surface of seeing all of them. 
I've featured some of the artworks that I saw in the museum during my past posts, including that of Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Paul Cezanne, Georgia O'Keefe, and Edgar Degas, among others.

Still, there are loads of them left, and I'll be featuring some more of them in this post.
One can get lost in the vastness and richness of the museum's collection - 2 million pieces in all -  which is grouped into 18 galleries. 
The galleries include collections spanning Near Easter art, European paintings, European s…

Clark Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

Today is the start of the 18th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. The annual event, which is held at the Omni Aviation Complex at Clark Airport in Pampanga, features aircraft static displays, skydiving exhibitions, ultralights, aircraft flybys and maneuvers, and of course, hot air balloons. 
The colorful hot air balloons, which comes in different shapes and sizes, participate in different activities, such as races, "night glows," flights, and being inflated while on the ground for the benefit of the spectators. While these are going on, paragliders would buzz overheard and do some stunts to the delight of the crowds.
Several airline companies and individuals also participate in the static displays. I have seen a trainer (a Dornier Alphajet) in one of the displays, owned by the owner of a local airline. The Philippine Air Force, Army and Navy also display their equipment. So far I've seen a Northrop-Grumman F-5 fighter jet, an Aermacchi S211 trainer, several h…

Barasoain Church

Barasoain Church is deemed the the most important religious building in Philippines, even greater than the Manila Cathedral, the seat of the archdiocese of Manila. 
Also dubbed as the "cradle of democracy," the church - located in the city of Malolos in Bulacan province - played an important role in the birth of the First Philippine Republic, the culmination of the revolution against Spain. 

The congress which drafted the constitution of the first republic convened in the church in 1898. The constitution, the first republican constitution in Asia, was promulgated a few months later, in January 22, 1899. The new republic was then inaugurated a a day later, also in the church.
Due to its historical importance the church was proclaimed a national shrine in 1973.
I first visited Barasoain when I attended a conference about the centennial of the Philippine revolution. I (and a friend) visited it again as a sidetrip on our way back to Manila from the Woodland Airpark to do the ultrali…

In Pictures: Ayutthaya

For this week's In Pictures we go to Ayutthaya, an ancient city that was once the capital of Siam. We visited the city and the ruins during the food tour of Bangkok. It is about 76 kilometers from the Thai capital.
Located in a fertile floodplain at the banks of Chao Phraya river, Ayutthaya became a powerful kingdom in the 15th century, and reached its golden age in the 18th century. Wars and dynastic struggle contributed to its decline years later.

Today it is a bustling city as well as the location of a UNESCO World Heritage site. The ruins were what's left of the ancient city after it was overrun by the Burmese. Within the ruins are several Buddhist temples, or wats, a grim testament to the brutal destruction of the city. 
Aside from the ancient temples and the statues of Buddha, we also visited the floating market, and I took the time to ride an elephant

How to get there: by train, take one from Bangkok's Hualampong station to Ayutthaya. By bus, take one originating from…

Diving the Bat Cave, Pinnacle and Basilica

Dive & Trek is a dive resort located adjacent to a protected marine park in Bauan, Batangas. It is about three hours away from Manila.

Dive & Trek is my default scuba diving location, just as San Juan is the usual surfing town that I go to. I was able to dive there several times, and I actually completed my open water certification there. One of the more memorable dives that I had in Dive & Trek happened many moons ago, when we did four dives in one weekend. 
Me and my scuba diving buddy, James, arrived there one Saturday morning. We met up with our dive master, Mark, and the rest of the party. 

Our first dive of the day was in a cavernous dive site called the Bat Cave, where we reached a maximum depth of 80 feet. This is quite exciting for me as this was one of my deepest yet (I think I was able to go down to around 100 feet in my later dives). I did not go inside to the mouth of the cavern (only Mark and one of our companions, Edward, did). My license is only for open wate…

Planespotting for Ultralights

This weekend I accompanied my friend Kohei to the Woodland Airpark in Magalang, Pampanga, to fly in an ultralight. He wanted to do the same after seeing my posts and picture about my ultralight experience. I did not fly this time as I was reserving my budget for next week's Boracay trip. Instead I stayed on the ground to do a bit of planespotting while Kohei is up in the air.
I love planespotting as an activity but I only do it when I am traveling or when I am in an airport. This is actually the first time that I went to an airfield on purpose, and to do nothing but to do planespotting (besides acting as the guide).

The airpark has a two-storey building that contains their office and classrooms. On the second floor was a restaurant with an open side that overlooks the runway. This is the ideal place to planespot, as there are chairs and a roof, and it sits almost on the edge of the runway. While taking pictures I got the chance to chat with two pilots, one a general aviation pilot wh…