What 2018 got me?

Looking back, aside from the pounds added, what do 2018 got me?

Life changing indeed when I started the year back to eating meat again after 3 years of being a herbivore. Giving up being a vegetarian never felt more liberating as I took back a lot of resistance on eating meat.

Of course, what a best way to have it in my favorite ‘eating’ city, Bacolod, as I had a quick trip in January. Ending this month with a great conference on how we should build relationships that transform.

February ticks as I decided to get back on my mat and gave back in to yoga. A quick trip to zone out with my Friday Group caps off this month. Celebrate successes when I got another promotion in my work.

Who wouldn’t want to kick off Summer with a great trip to Bali, Indonesia? Amazing temples, food and sites are way too fabulous not to explore. Truly, Bali is a good idea especially if you have a villa that you can enjoy by yourself.

April was when we organized my Lola’s 80th Luau Party. Successful indeed when it becomes another reunion for the clan.

May was quick when one cousin got married.

June started with a concert attended feeling blessed and even more blessed ending this month being one with the nature with a trip to Palawan. El Nido preserved it’s serene beach and wondrous islands where every tourist captures every scene with stars on their eyes.

Ending July slash opening August with a trip all the way up north. Batanes is truly breathtaking that you can never describe unless you experience it.

‘Ang Huling El Bimbo’ was surely a hit as we watched the last show on their run in September. Catch their rerun this March 2019.

The past three months had been very challenging. Grateful to thy Saviour for enduring every lesson to always trust in Him in every step. October is victory, claimed it!

November always starts a rollercoaster of festivities celebrating the birth month being busy til the holiday season. Started a quick trip to Region 1.

Then 3 countries bagged in a month. Hong Kong and Macau after birthday and ended the month in an abundant cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Nara, Japan.

December will always be for holiday parties and Christmas get together. Hosting them is another story, always grateful for it. This will always be a perfect time to reunite with friends and family. I realized that a part of your Christmas bonus/13th month pay should be allocated to this besides the gifts you share.

So what did 2018 got me? Yes, additional pounds (which is always included), 4 countries visited, with 2 local cities flown, struggles turned lessons and definitely a steadfast FAITH that will continue to grow. God uses our experiences because He always wants us in the position He wants us to be in.

Thank you 2018 and always looking forward to what lies ahed.


Breathtaking Batanes.

People would always ask how will you describe Batanes. Others will say how the pinned location says ‘Breathtaking Batanes’, but how was it to experience it?

Batanes is the northernmost part of the Philippines. They are a group of islands situated around 190kms from Taiwan. Yes, that near, farther than driving Manila to Baguio.

Ivatans, how locals from here are called, treasured their culture so much that they preserved the beauty and untouched-like creator’s wonders.

Touching down Basco, which is the capital of this town where most homestay and accommodations are situated nearby. Batanes is such a breath of fresh air where each and every spot will truly exceed the expectation one way or another.

Grateful for a very good weather all throughout the almost 5 days stay worth every sun burnt skin are made of. Itinerary are as follows:

***Php 350 Environmental Fee to be collected to each tourist which serves as a passport to all spots in Batanes.

Day 1: North Batan Island Tour (Half day)

Mt. Carmel Chapel (famous in movies or churches for weddings in Batanes) > PAGASA ‘Tukon’ Radar Station > Fundacion Pacita (high-end accomodation in Batanes) > Basco Idkang Viewing > WWII Japanese Hideout/Tunnel > Valugan Boulder Beach > Sto. Domingo Cathedral > Vayang Rolling Hills > Basco Lighthouse in Naidi Hills

*Lunch/Dinner option at Panda’s Wine and Grill. Their camote rolls are to die for. They are open for deliveries to your accommodation.

Day 2: Sabtang Island Tour

***30 minute boat ride from Batan via Ivana Port.

San Vicente Ferrer Church > Malakdang Lighthouse > Bgy. Savidug Stone Houses > Sto. Thomas Chapel > Lime Kiln > Savidug Idjang Viewing > Chamantad Tinyan Viewpoint > Bgy. Chavayan Stone Houses > Sta. Rosa De Lima Chapel > Nakabuang Cave > Mahayao Natural Arc Formation > Morong Beach (optional swimming and snorkling)

*Lunch option by the beach and enjoy their own version of Pork Bagnet.

***Vakul and Kana-i, known Batanes costume for female and male respectively against strong weathers that hit the islands most of the times. Rentals at Php 20 per person.

Day 3: South Batan Tour (Full Day)

Paderes Point and Cliff Road > Chawa Viewing Deck > Mahatao Boat Shelter > Mahatao Town Proper > San Carlos Borromeo Church > Mahatao Spanish Light House > Mahatao Tayid Lighthouse > White Beach and Hohmoron Spanish Lagoon (optional swimming) > Malapad Rock Formation > House of Dakay > Old Spanish Bridge > San Jose de Ivana Church and Ruins > Honesty Store > Uyugan’s San Antonio de Florencia Church > Ruins of Song Song > Itbud’s Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Church > Imnajbu’s San Lorenzo Ruiz Chapel (built in honor of the first mass and baptism in Batanes) > Alapad Hills and Rock Formation > Racuh a Payaman aka Marlboro Hills

*Lunch option at Paulvanna’s which serves really good food.

Day 4: Free day

Brunch at Cafe Du Tukon at Fundacion Pacita (a bit pricey but worth it) > Abad Street Market Shopping > Souvenir shopping at Tamsen > Bike tour around the city to experience the everyday lives of Ivatan.

***Bike rentals in Abad Street at Php 25 per hour.

People who have been to Batanes will always say that you will be in love with it. Going back to the first question as to how to describe Batanes. As for me, no words can describe Batanes but to experience it. Pictures will not give justice. The naked eye cannot lie how each 360 degree view can be able to take your breath away and surely captivates your heart.

Chanpan Tours arranged our tours and accommodation at a very reasonable price. It goes with a very informational tour guide slash a very creative photographer is highly recommended. Visit their Facebook page or contact them at 09088931475/09178574493.

Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Skyjet and Airswift flies to and from Basco everyday.

Dios Mamajes Batanes!

Round up 2016.

So another year that was. What happened in the 365 days of 2016?

January started stressful as a new project starts at work, but nevertheless through Him, all things became possible.

February was highlighted with my comeback travel to Hong kong as I celebrated Chinese New Year in a Chinese territory surrounded by the Chinese race. Ended the month with a quick trip up north to celebrate Panagbenga Festival in Baguio with friends.

I can consider March dedicated to my family as we spend some time in the beach, consequently the birth of ‘Saber’ being a blessing from above. A check definitely in my goals for 2016. Also on this month, I was diagnosed with something I have been concealing and denying to myself and acceptance came in as I need to do a maintenance meds horror.

April started with summer outings one from another. A trip to Beijing definitely helps me check seeing the great wall on my bucket list.

May jumps me into wedding stints as one by one friends are getting married and definitely provided me an alias as the ‘Pambansang Abay’ for hopping from one wedding to another as a sponsor but never a groom.

June makes me realise that the health part on my goals for the year is quite far from what it should be. Slowly but surely, I started to keep an eye on it by going back to running and yoga.

July greatly deserves a break as friends flew to Bangkok visiting the city the second time. Finale was a start of my journey in seeking our only Saviour, joining a ‘True Life’ retreat. Truly, a life changing experience.

August is where I try to search for new activities where in I attempt to proliferate the world of calligraphy. Too bad, my time does not allow me to focus on this.

September was for another two weddings to attend to. I started to memorise how every wedding goes.

October brought a quick trip to Tagaytay with friends. Great way to rest and recover.

Birthday month November brought me to a trip to United Arab Emirates, Dubai and Abu Dhabi to be exact. Meeting friends who are based there makes every stay worthwhile.

December is really the season we all have been working for. Promotion from work came in. Indeed, only by His grace, everything through Him. Victory serenades as I hosted the company’s yearend event, loads of parties and get together and prepping for the holidays.

What a year that was and never been grateful. Cheers to 2017! 👆🏼


30,000 PHP Dubai-Abu Dhabi Trip, Why not? (Part 2)


In reference to my previous entry and as promised, I am sharing my expenses table during my 8-day stay in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. So how did everything happened by maximising a budgeted money of PHP 30,000, including airfare and all? Check out the breakdown of my expenditures below.

Activity Amount
Day 1 Late dinner at Dubai Airport Food court (Vegetarian Arabic Combo) 27 AED
Transportation to Abu Dhabi Fetched by my friends
Accomodation Slept at my friend’s place
Day 2 Breakfast At my friend’s place
Bus to Dubai 25 AED
Taxi to hotel c/o Friend
Hotel via Booking.com at Al Sarab Hotel 420 AED/2 nights divided by 2 persons = 210 AED
All You can Eat Lunch 35 AED
Metro Train Card 25 AED
Dubai Mall (Dubai Aquarium, Falls, Souk)
Dinner at Dubai Mall Foodcourt (Vegetarian Arabic Combo) 26 AED
Burj Khalifa sight seeing and Fountain Show Free
The Palace Downtown
Morrocan Mint Tea and Kharafa night cap at Al Safadi Restaurant Treated by my friends
Day 3 Breakfast (All Filipino Foodcourt) Treated by a friend
Metro Train top up 20 AED
Abra boat ride 1 AED
Old Souk
Dubai Museum Entrance Fee 3 AED
Gold Souk
Shawarma/Falafel/Biryani/Karak Chai Lunch 16 AED
Mall of Emirates (Ski Dubai)
Taxi ride to Burj Al Arab c/o Friend
Dinner at Five Guys 40 AED
The Beach
Yacht ride at Dubai Marina with Shisha and Tea night cap Free (c/o friend’s connections)
Taxi ride back to the hotel c/o friend
Day 4 Arabic Brunch at Sandwich Club (Biryani/Falafel/Shawarma) 30 AED
Al Ghurair Mall
Desert Safari (Transportation, Dune Bashing, Camel ride, Arabic night show, Buffet dinner) 110 AED
Bus to Abu Dhabi 25 AED
Accomodation (Navygate Tourist Club) Stayed at my friend’s place
Day 5 Breakfast At my Friend’s place
Taxi to Galeria 8 AED
Coffee at Armani Cafe Treated by a friend
Taxi to Al Wahda Mall 9 AED
Late lunch at Al Wahda Foodcourt (Vegetarian Arabic Combo) 26 AED
Tea at Paul Boulangerie 16 AED
Pre dinner at Chowking 28 AED
Transportation to Al Reem Island to visit friends Dropped by my friend
Catch up night cap at Arc Tower (Cleveland Accomodation) Hosted by the unit owners
Day 6 Breakfast At my Friend’s place
Taxi to Yas Mall 60 AED
Ferrari World Free Entrance (during Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays)
Lunch at Rogo’s Rollercoaster Restaurant in Yas Mall 60 AED
Dessert at Cheesecake Factory 34 AED
Corniche Beach Entrance Fee 10 AED
Tea at the top of Marina Mall with a view of the city 21 AED
Day 7 Breakfast At my Friend’s place
Taxi to World Trade Center 9 AED
Lunch at Shake Shack Treated by a friend
Coffee at Costa Coffee Treated by a friend
Emirates Palace 7 Star Hotel Free Entrance
Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque Free Entrance
Masdar City Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) Ride Free
Late dinner at Olive Garden in Al Wahda Mall Treated by a friend
Transportation Van rented by my friends
Day 8 Breakfast Leftover from dinner
Transportation to Dubai Van rented by my friends
Falafel Lunch at Last Exit 16 AED
Outlet Village at Dubai Parks
Dubai City Walk
Dinner at Chin Chin 50 AED
Total Expenses 940 AED = 12220 PHP (13) = 249.38 USD (49)
***shopping/pasalubongs not included.
Cebu Pacific Flight Roundtrip (MNL-DXB-MNL) 9266.09 PHP
Additional 20 KG Baggage (DXB-MNL) 1300.00 PHP
International Travel Tax (Manila) 1620.00 PHP
UAE Visa Processing 400 AED = 5200 PHP (13)
Total Expenses 17386.09 PHP = 354.81 USD (49)

Traveling should never be always a splurge. For me, the experience is still what keeps you alive and look forward to traveling. And most of all, having your small circle of friends get tighter as you age, surely every experience and penny spent would be worthwhile.

30,000 PHP Dubai-Abu Dhabi Trip, Why not?

It was just a piece of invitation when friends from around the globe tend to extend their invitations to meet up at one of the progressed city of the Emirates, Dubai. 

Booking a flight 4 months ahead under the budget friendly carrier, Cebu Pacific Air, taking advantage of their trend-setting ‘seat sale’ was way to efficient to our pockets to get a low cost flight.

Journey begins as we touched down Dubai International Airport with my friend fetching us to drive straight to Abu Dhabi to have a good night rest. 

Day 1 starts as I meet my friends who flew from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at the City Terminal of Abu Dhabi, in front of Al Wahda Mall. With a 2-hour bus ride crossing through the deserts at 25 AED/per person, buses will drop you in Al Ghubaiba in Dubai. You may walk 5-10 minutes for you to reach the Metro Station but we chose to ride a taxi since no one can lead us to where we want to go. Taxi fares us at around 19 AED for the 4 of us to our pre-booked hotel through Booking.com. Al Sarab Hotel is located at the heart of Al Rigga, Deira City, around 10 minute walk from the Metro station, which is one of the centre of commercial areas. It was a great savings for us where in we just paid 420 AED/room for 2 nights comparing it to their normal rates at 790 AED/night.

As we checked in to our hotel, waiting a wee bit hours as our Dubai friends finish their work, we tend to have our late lunch at a Filipino All-you-can-eat restaurant nearby at 35 AED/person. Meeting up at 4pm at the Metro station, we rode the train to Dubai Mall to experience the modernized structures by the Emiratis. Dubai Aquarium, the falls, the souk (‘market’) are the ones to name a few to see here. 

Reaching end point of the mall where you can see the world’s tallest and one of Dubai’s must, Burj Khalifa. Sighting the nearby fountain show every hour really fascinates every tourist’s eye. Walking further is where you will find The Palace Downtown. I would wish I could afford to stay here. Ending our tiresome walking day back to Al Safadi Restaurant, this is just near our hotel. Sipping on our Moroccan Mint Tea and some Khanafa, which is a famous Arabic sweet which are to die for.

Day 2 started with a quick dip on our hotel’s roof top pool. Meeting up at 10am with the whole gang for breakfast at a Filipino food court style restaurant in Deira City. 

This long day journey started as we train to Baniyas to ride the Abra, a boat ride to see The Old Souk. Striding further, as we approach Dubai Museum. With an entrance fee of 3 AED/person, this exemplifies the history and culture of the early Emirates and how they unite. After which we reach the famous Dubai Gold Souk, where great deals of gold are in. We had our shawarma/falafel lunch on a nearby store at 5 AED, and tasted the 1 AED Karak Chai, which is the Arabic version of milk tea.

We then rode the train to Mall of Emirates to see the famous Ski Dubai. Long taxi lines kept our patience as we voyage towards the luxurious Burj Al Arab which is just beside the Wild Wadi Dubai. (Note: Burj Al Arab is not open to public unless you have reservation which is really expensive) Adjacent to this is the Jumeirah Hotel in which you can see up close the famous architecture thru its beach stretch. Running to catch the bus back to the Mall of Emirates at 2 AED/person, we rode the train to Dubai Marina and rode the tram to its new structures. The Beach is a new getaway place which friends and family can enjoy. With an array of dine places, movie houses and some more fun activities to enjoy. What a great way to end this very looong day is to lounge around a yacht with some tea and shisha relishing a magnificent view of Dubai Marina. Great to have connections for you to get through this luxury!

Another day started as we finally tasted the most intrigued restaurant in Al Rigga that whenever we try to go, long lines are waiting. We had our brunch at the Sandwich Club, a very nice and affordable restaurant. We quickly finished our pasalubong shopping in a nearby Al Ghurair Mall. 

Pre booked in advance, we paid 110 AED for our Desert Safari experience. This includes Transportation (which we are picked up in our hotel at 3pm and returned after), Dune Bashing, Camel ride, Arabic night show and buffet dinner. It was an awesome experience that we enjoyed desserts of Dubai having a great conversation with our ‘Kabayan’ driver, whom he also drove for Kris Aquino and Kara David when they visited. Rushing back to Al Ghubaiba as we try to take the last bus to Abu Dhabi and bid farewell for some time to Dubai.

Staying in my friend’s accommodation in Abu Dhabi was indeed a great savings for our pocket and time to bond with my ever missed friends. The time spent here is mostly of catching up with friends, digesting their success stories and struggles as they venture into their new lives away from home.

Day one here in the capital city started being fascinated with the The Galleria, a mall with high end shops adding up the view of the high rise building while taking a sip of coffee in Armani Café as I caught up with my friend from my previous work. Traveling by taxi to Al Wahda Mall which is one of the shopping heavens for sale items are here and there. We ended our day celebrating with our friends over dinner and laughs in their accommodation in Al Reem Island. Fortunately they got a nice place which was sponsored by their employers, unlikely not for other OFW brothers and sisters since renting a place in Abu Dhabi is really one of the top expenses living in.

Another day to explore the city has started since my friend is off from work, she can tour us around. We travelled by taxi to Saadiyat Beach to experience the sands and sea of UAE. Unfortunately, there was an event on going so we changed our plans and re-route to Yas Mall to tick Ferrari World on the itinerary. Free Entrance during Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. We ate at Rogo’s Rollercoaster Restaurant in which your food goes through the loops and grind upon serving. Amazing idea indeed! We had some desserts thereafter at the famous Cheesecake Factory. A slice cost 34 AED which is not bad for a mouth-watering experience. 

Since we still itch for a beach experience, we then resort to Corniche Beach which has an entrance fee of 10 AED, but you can still enjoy their public beach for free if you want. After which, we proceeded to the Marina Mall and climbed to its tower to have a view of the city. They privatized their observatory and converted it to a coffee shop and have some refreshment to see a great view.

I can’t believe that I am in the Emirates for a week and starting my day 7 to meet some friends at the World Trade Centre. Finally, I tasted the famous Shake Shack burger. The ‘Shroom burger is too die for! The lunch was followed by some coffee session meeting another friend. It was really great catching up with friends realizing their new lives abroad.

My friend rented a van for us to explore the city with the whole gang. And so they picked us up and went straight to the Emirates Palace which is the 7 star hotel. Embellishments and grandeur has been exhibited in this place. 

After which, we went to the Grand Mosque in honour of Sheik Zayed. Architecture was just perfect in all angles. Females must wear long sleeves and pants with abaya to enter. On the other hand, males should not be wearing shorts above the knee. Anyway, they have clothing to rent at the basement for you to be admitted. It was actually my dream to wear one of the everyday outfits of Emirati males which is a ‘kandora’. And so I did together with the help of my supportive friend. 

We then proceeded to the Masdar City which is said to be the source of the future of Emirates. Everything here is solar powered and they try to recycle as much as they can. The PRT (Personal Rapid Transit) is said to be one project that the government is looking as a good transportation in the future. We tried to ride this and it was just amazing. Lastly, to cap of the night, we went back to the city and headed to Al Wahda Mall to have our late dinner in Olive Garden.

It was our last day to explore the city and to go back to Dubai since we are having the evening flight back to Manila. And so the gang is up again and travelled to Dubai. Our first stop is the Last Exit which is usually the stop over for those who are travelling from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. We had a quick lunch there and proceeded to the Dubai Parks. Apparently, since the parking is quite expensive just to see the Lego Land and other attractions, we decided not to go and just go to the Outlet Village instead to do our last minute shopping. We were welcomed with quite a jam of traffic as we enter Dubai. So we then drove to Dubai City Walk, which is one of the newest attractions in Dubai, followed by our last dinner in a Chinese restaurant, Chin Chin before heading to Dubai International Airport.

To date, this is the most body tiring yet a mind resting travel that I did since mostly I did not research anything with our itinerary and my friends provided us and pampered as much as they can to be with me concurrently with their work. It was indeed an amazing experience that the bonds of your friendship strengthen as you share both your stories on how successes are not easily attained. It was an incredible journey how the stories of Filipinos abroad were really not easy but for us to achieve our goals, a lot of sacrifices are being offered.

Above all, how can you maximize your PHP 30,000 budget to an all in travel to United Arab Emirates? Find out in my next entry. 😉

Vindicating Vietnam.

Vindicating Vietnam.

Vietnam has so much heart on their history keeping their heads up on what their country has become. With its great array of quality food and good shopping finds, Vietnam is one country recommended for backpacking tourists who seeks adventure and thrills on their travel diaries.



Ho Chi Minh City or previously known as Saigon is located on the southern part Vietnam in which most tourist visit. Pham Ngu Lao is the main center of all the visitors of the city. Most hotels, bars, parks, markets, restaurants, shopping stores are located nearby.


The Ben Tanh Market is where most souvenirs, good buys and delicious food can be found. Make sure you suite yourself to your best bargaining skills to maximize your shopping budget. Be also mindful with people who try to take advantage over other people, especially the tourists, who over priced their products plus can held you up if they really want you to buy their stuffs.


The War Remnants Museum is one of the must visit museum in the city. It showcased the stories of Vietnamese during the war of the Americans. The understanding beneath the hearts of every locale from this country will surely be explained here, especially of what had happened during the era of the “Agent Orange”.


The Notre Dame Cathedral is another site to visit. It’s good architecture will surely amaze every tourist visiting.
Another must see is the Central Post Office. It is open for tourist to view what’s in store and to take some pictures with an ongoing sight on how the post office rolls.


TIP: If you are on a tight budget and cool to walk around the city, it can actually be strolled since the spots are just near to each other and near Pham Ngu Lao, which is again the center of the tourist attractions.


Cu Chi Tunnels is about 90-minutes away from Ho Chi Minh City. In here, you can see the maze tunnels and picture how people lived underground during the war era. A documentary film can be viewed showing the Vietnamese struggle during the war. The nearly 200 kilometer tunnels serve as their underground cities to defend themselves from the attack of the Americans. Experience these tunnels to feel like a local on their medieval years.

TIP: Always be vigilant and keep an eye on your valuables especially with people taking advantage of the tourists.


Vietnam has so much things to offer. The city is a tourist friendly, especially for backpackers, however, not recommendable for family trips. Will definitely find time to see what the northern part of this country has to say. I will see you very soon, Hanoi!