Thursday, October 31, 2013

Architect's Summit Day 2: Honda Bay Tour

I almost did not make it to the assembly area by the imposed meeting time at 7:30 AM.  We went out drinking the night before until about 3:00 AM and my alarm did not turn on. It was my room mates phone whose not taking part of any tour that woke up.  I was able to take a quick shower and change to my beach outfit, and went to the lobby with still 30 minutes to spare for breakfast.

I joined the other delegates to our assigned van after eating.  Inside the van, the Reggae music playing perked me up. Our driver turned out to be one of the members of the Reggae group Mito's Tribe that performed at our welcome dinner the night before. We were the last one leaving the hotel, because we were waiting for another participant who didn't show up.  We had separate vans but, it was just to take us to the wharf where all the other tour attendees boarded a large boat owned by Legendary Tours.  Legendary Tours is the Tour Organizer that caters mainly to the guests of Legend Hotel Palawan. According to our van tour guide, the wharf came from the tailings of a mercury mine during the 70's.

Before reaching the wharf, we made a quick stop to a dive rental shop to get aqua shoes and bread to feed the fishes at Pandan Island. The aqua shoe rental was 150 pesos.  I made the mistake of settling on the small size that actually hurt my feet rather than protect it. 

We went straight to Pandan Island which is 45 minutes away from the wharf.  Just as soon as we reached the shore, it started raining and most of us just seek shade from the many huts that lined the shore.  Then one by one, people started exploring the beach and soon most of us are in the water.

The beach is teeming with fish.  You don't have to swim far to see them.  Just throw a piece of bread in the water and they will come to you.

You will never go hungry on this island.  Just behind the huts are stalls selling the fresh catch of the day.  They will even cook it to your liking.

Since we will be here most of the day, our group ordered large clams, crabs, sea urchin and fish to add to the provided lunch.

Legendary Tours even provided beach games for us.

At around 2:00 PM we boarded the boat again to visit Star Fish Island.  It's smaller than Pandan Island and home to its namesake.  We stayed around 30 minutes to explore the sand bar and the mangroves on its side.

On our way back, we passed Luli Island, short for Lulubog, Lilitaw.  Is also a sandbar that disappears during high tide.

We were not able to visit Snake Island because of a claim dispute and they are letting the Pambato Reef recover from human visitors.

We're back in the wharf around 4:00 PM.

Travel Tip:

Most hotels can arrange the tour for you.  They have a tie-up with the different travel agencies in the city and can combine you with other groups.  For Honda Bay Tour, it normally cost 1,100 - 1,300 per head.  Try to know the inclusions for you to compare.  Normally, that would include Lunch and Snorkle.  Aqua Shoes can be helpful, but make sure it fits you well.  You can buy fresh seafood at Pandan Island and have them cooked to your liking.  Toilet Facilities are also available.  The beaches in Honda Bay has a steep drop and wearing life vest at all times is advisable.

Asgard in Victoria Court

Coming to Asgard is now made easier in Victoria Court.  No need for the convergence of the 9 realms or access the bi-frost.  Just visit the Malate and Pasig Branch.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Architect's Summit Day 1: Zero Carbon, RA 9266, and Bhutan as the Happiest Place on Earth!

After my Chaolong fix,  I went to Legend Hotel, which will be our home for the next two nights.  The exhibits was open already participated in by our ever loyal business partners. 

The registration is also on-going.  I just went to the side assigned to my Area which is B.  I immediately saw my name under the cluster of sheets of the district where I belong.  There were five of us attending, but I only know 4 in the list.  The same thing happened last February, where a delegate who is now based in Palawan decided to join the Assembly.  This time, it was a requirement from the government office where our long lost member is employed that prompted her to join.  It's always good to re-ignite old ties with the Chapter.

My timing was just perfect.  The opening ceremonies was just about to start, and they were about to serve lunch. 

After lunch came the talk of Robert Wimmer on Zero Carbon Resorts.  With the success of S-House project in Vienna, where sustainable technology was introduced and still being used, he is now sharing the best practices here in the Philippines and now to us Architects.

The General Meeting is next with the update on RA 9266 as the main topic.

We then took a break as delegates settled into our rooms and prepare for dinner where ABS CBN Foundation, Managing Directr Gina Lopez is the Guest of Honor.

When dinner was formally announced, we were entertained by Mitu's Tribe.  A very talented local reggae band with the leader turning out to be our driver for the Honda Bay tour the next day.

I personally was trying hard not to stand up and sway to contagious percussion and the reggae beat.

A standing ovation welcomed our Guest of Honor Gina Lopez.  I admire her passion for what she's doing.  You can feel her sincere intention to help every individual Filipino.  I enjoy her very candid speech! She shared, that the Philippines is such a beautiful country, with more than 7k islands, why are we living in spaces where we can't breath fresh air and block ourselves from nature and not see the stars at night? It's a challenge to all of us, especially architects. Our drive should not come from wealth, but from happiness!  That's why Bhutan is the happiest place on the planet because they believe in this rule.

Tokens were given, and Raffle Prizes were given out to end the evening.  Some retired to their rooms, but most of us went out to sample the night life of Puerto Princesa.  I would have wanted to follow Mitu's Tribe at their gig in Katabom, but I went with the majority and explored the more popular hang out places.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Architect's Summit Day 1: Chao Long

The day has finally arrived for ASSET.  I purposely scheduled my trip early to get the most of what Puerto Princesa offers its touring guest.  The day before, I already went on the City Tour and had dinner at Ka Lui's.

For Day 1, the organizers scheduled the Opening Ceremonies, General Assembly and Seminar as well as the Welcome Dinner.

I checked out early from my hotel around 10:00 AM to drop by the Chaolong place I passed by yesterday on my way back from the tour.  I figured the formal program might start after lunch to accommodate the delayed arrival of delegates.

I remember Chaolong from my February visit.  It was the first challenge that we have to complete for the Amazing Race inspired game.  Our first instruction was to go to Viet Ville on board the assigned tricycles.  At the entrance, we were asked to find letters of this famous Vietnamese Dish, hidden in 10 abandoned resettlement houses.  Once complete, we will then present the word formed to the waiter for him to give us a fresh serving that we need to consume the fastest.

Viet Ville, is the site where Vietnamese refugees were accommodated during Vietnam War.  Only a few families remain, but the restaurant still serves the best and most authentic Vietnamese dishes in Puerto Princesa City.

Like all the sights I've visited during the race, I have no picture to document my visit.  I could not even remember the taste of Chaolong, since i gobbled it up in less than 3 minutes.

Chaolong in Palawan is different from Chaolong in Vietnamese.  In Vietnam, it refers to porridge or what we call locally as Lugaw.  The Chaolong in Palawan is called Pho in Vietnam and most of the Vietnamese restaurants elsewhere.

My Beef Stew Chaolong, I forgot the neame of the Food Stall where I got this, but it's just a few blocks away from Island Stay, going towards Ka Lui's.
The french bread, ordered separately!

It's very much like the local Mami, that also comes in different meat toppings.  The difference is the chewy rice noodle and and the sweet, spicy, savory broth.  It is served with bean sprouts, basil and calamansi on the side with an assortment of condiments.  It is best paired with freshly baked french bread.

Never leave Palawan without tasting this dish!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pasaway Moments in the Airport

As a solo traveler, maybe because since I don't have anyone to talk to, I can't help but observe the many Pasaway Moments inside the Terminal 4 of NAIA, from the entrance to boarding.  I know you yourself have encountered some of them.

1. Those who have a different definition for empty and those who does not know what a wallet looks like.

No matter how loud or how many times the airport security personnel shouts out the instruction to empty your pockets and place your phones and wallets in your bag, there would always be that person who would be requested to go back for not following, and they're always ahead of you.

2.  Those who think they could get away bringing a large bottle of perfume or an aerosol body spray.

I am guilty with this one.  There is this one time when we emptied a can of body spray to ourselves, so that it wouldn't go to waste.  We were the best smelling passengers in that flight.

3. 100 Peso Lugaw and Mami at the Pre-departure area.

I'm not willing to part with my 100 pesos for that portion of Lugaw in a styro bowl that I could get for 10 pesos outside.  For extreme gutom, I would just get the donuts that's priced the same everywhere.

4.  Those who would create a second line at the gate during boarding and pretend its unintentional.

5.  Those who thinks there's price given to the first person to board the aircaft.

6.  Those who are excited to have their photos taken inside the plane, when you haven't even reached your seat.

7.  Those who would pretend to be seated window side when both of you know ITS YOU!

That's the reason why I don't purchase seats online.  Even if you book it in advance, or request for it at check-in, there will be times that somebody will take over your preferred seat.  If the person is my age, then i would impose, but how would you do that to an elderly or young kid.

8.  Those who have 3 separate bags for hand carried items.

9. Those who seems to have a bladder problem, continuously making trips to the restroom and would impose to be seated window side.

10.  A group who can't stop talking and taking pictures when you're between them.

This are the only items, I have identified do far.  Let me know if you have something to add.

Architect's Summit Day 0: Puerto Pricesa City Tour

My first day at Puerto Princesa City is intended for the City Tour.  I have reserved the tour of the beaches and offshore destination this Saturday as part of the Summit Package.

Since I am traveling alone, I relied on blogs for my itinerary.  I originally planned on hiring the tourism accredited tricycle which I contacted through another blogsite that charges me 700 pesos for the half day tour.  But when I checked-in to my Hotel at Island Stay, they were offering the same tour for 600 pesos, inclusive of entrance fees, tour guide and snacks at the comfort of an air conditioned van.

I arrived around 12 NN and was picked up around 1:30PM.  Joining me were 3 other groups.  There was a foreign couple, 2 fellow architects from Ilo-ilo, and 5 nurses who are also attending their convention.

Once complete, we were off to our 1st destination, the Puerto Princesa Baywalk.  The baywalk is best appreciated at night and a place where people can eat at the many food stalls offering a variety of dishes.  Its favorite hang out for locals and is known for the tallest Christmas Tree making it to the Guiness Book of World Records.

After passing the Sea Port, we were then taken to the Plaza Cuartel which is located just beside the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral.

Entrance of Plaza Cuartel

Plaza Cuartel

Plaza Cuartel has a tragic past.  It was the site where 150 American and Filipino prisoners were massacred by the Japanese towards the end of World War 2.  A monument commemorating the victims is found inside the compound.

Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Puerto Princesa

Immaculate Conception Cathedral

Right across Plaza Cuartel is the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.  The Immaculate Conception is the Patron Saint of the City, the reason for the blue and white color of the church.  It is also the color of the city.  As you go around town, you will notice that all their tricycles are painted in this color.  They also have a traffic coding system based on them.

The Color Coded Tricycle of the City in Blue and White

After the Cathedral, we navigated our way through the main street, Rizal Avenue to our next destination.  Rizal Avenue is also known as the Port to Port road, with the seaport on one end and the airport on the other and stretches 3 kilometers.

We were then taken to the first of the two souvenir complex we would visit.  Since, this is just the start of my stay, and have no baggage allowance, I just explored the other shops in the vicinity.

Souvenir Shops

Mercado de San Miguel

Mercado de San Miguel is a souvenircomplex complimented with coffee shops and restaurants.  I was drawn to an Art Cafe beside it, but went to try the Casoy Brewed Coffee at Isla Casoy de Palawn.  I even got myself a jar of the Casoy Butter.

The Charming Art Cafe within the complex.  I will definitely come back should I have more time.  The entrance reminded me of "The Shire" from Lord of the Rings.
The many ways to enjoy Casoy! From Coffee to wines and the many other flavors it was packed.  I personally got myself a jar of the Casoy Butter and tried Casoy Brewed Coffee to go!

LRC Souvenir Complex

This is a bigger complex with more varieties on display.  There are also stalls beside it selling shirts and local handicarfts.

By time, I now regret not having bought a baggage allocation for my return flight.  There are so many items I want to bring home.

After the souvenir shops, we then transferred to Binautan Creations.

Binuatan Creations

Binuatan Creations is a community based weaving industry, wherein grass and other local fibers are woven into mats and bags and other souvenir products.  You can actually watch the weavers at work and will let you even try using the looms.

Palawan Wildlife Recue and Conservation Center

Popularly known as the Crocodile Farm, the Center allows visitors to appreciate these calm but very ferocious creatures.  Right at the entrance is the skin and skeleton of the largest crocodile caught in the wild prior to Lolong.  Guests are then taken to the hatchling tanks and the cages for grown crocodiles.  An optional visit to their nature park allows you to see some of the endemic animals of Palawan.

Remains of the 2nd Largest Crocodile caught in the wild
The Palawan Bear Cat

Mitra Ranch

Mitra Ranch is Puerto Princesa's Version of Tagaytay.  Perched on a hill, it offers a view of Honda Bay and the landscape of Palwan.

Honda Bay as viewed from Mitra's Ranch

Bakers Hill

Bakers Hill is a Park with landscaped gardens complimented with fiberglass figures of famous characters.  It is also known for their baked treats like the hopia and the restaurants.

Bakers Hill was the last stop for the trip, and we were then brought back to our respective hotels.

If this is your first time in Puerto Princesa, the tour serves as a good introduction to the city.  I'm looking forward to my Honda Bay Tour on Saturday.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Architect's Summit Day 0: Dinner at Ka Lui's

After the City Tour of Puerto Princesa, I just went back to the hotel to freshen up and take away the layer of dust from my skin. I rewarded myself with dinner at Ka Lui's. My blog research on Puerto Princesa always includes this restaurant in their must visit place.
Two days before my arrival, I called to make my reservation. It's a must to guarantee you a seat, even for a solo traveller like me. True enough, the place is full when I got there.

I was greeted by the receptionist at the entrance confirming my reservation and was asked to take off my slippers. All guests are required to go barefoot.  It was good since I miss the feel of bamboo slats on my feet which reminded me of my visit to our hometown in Borongan in Samar.  The interior showcases wood and bamboo in its varying forms. 

I was then ushered to my table near the entrance.

I ordered myself the Ka Lui's Special Set intend for two people which would cost 545 including taxes.

The first items served was the soup and Lato appetizer.  I'm not a big fan of fish broth, but this one is not fishy at all.  The Lato drenched in calamansi burst in your mouth, like pop rock candies.

The pan seared tuna came next, with the waiter bringin the actual pan before placing the fillets on your plate. Then the fish rolled with green chillies and what I assumed basil in coconut cream followed.

I was given two servings of rice, maybe because of my built.

The prawn in butter sauce followed with the eggplant tempura in a sweet chili sauce.

After the meal cane dessert. It was a mix of fresh fruits served in a coconut nut shell topped with muscovado sugar.

Now I know why this is a favorite of bloggers and tourists. I was ready to leave when I decided to take a trip to the restroom.  Walking barefoot, I was surprised to see the size of the restaurant.  All I can see from my table was the entrance and a small portion of the dining area.  The place also houses a gallery with a collection of local art.

Day 5: Tito's Roadtrip Travel Guide to Bicol

Our last day in Bicol is dedicated to our long drive back home. We decided to leave early around 3AM in order to reach Manila late in the ...