Thursday, May 29, 2014

RampaDora the Explorer Maiden Voyage

Today I am officially launching the 1st tour package for RampaDora the Explorer Tours.

I want to cater mainly to the LGBT market offering affordable packages of road trips I have experienced myself.  I want to customise trips according to our lifestyle and interests, creating a balance of adventure, art and culture.  

What would set our tour group apart from the others is our attention to details.  

Every road trip would have a playlist of songs depending on the destination and guest preferences.  
I wouldn't want be stuck on a 4 hour ride listening to rock and 80's new wave, or worst the Porkchop Duo Concert.

VANity Kit
We know how expensive it is to maintain that perfect skin complexion and we would not to destroy that.  Each van is equipped with sun protection essentials from sun blocks to umbrellas (in pink). We also have alcohol, wet wipes and toiletries to keep you feeling fresh.

This is something I have observed from other tour groups.  Some function like a transport service bringing you from one point to the other.  With us, we will ensure that all guests will experience everything that the place has to offer and be immersed with the local culture.  Before each trip, we will research on the Must Visit, Must Eat, and Must Do!

I have chosen Taal Heritage Town as the first destination because of its rich history, unique landmarks and places to visit aside from the many activities you can do within the town.

Taal Heritage Town (June 28, 2014)
Pic Pac Package
(Pic Pac Package are for destinations suited for photography and sight seeing.  It can also be a festival)

06:00 AM Meet-up
07:00 AM ETD for Taal Town
10:00 AM ETA arrival in Taal Heritage Village

Day Tour

Leon Apacible House
Marcela Agoncillo House

Tampuhan Cafe

House Hopping
Villa Tortuga
Casa Villavicencio with Snack
Galleria Taal housing the biggest collection of old cameras

Church Tour
Basilica of Saint Martin, the biggest church in Asia
Our Lady of Caysasay

5:00 PM  ETD for Manila

Transportation, Guide Fees, Entrance Fees, Lunch and Snack.
Photo in period costumes at Villa Tortuga (200php)
Climb the Bell Tower of the Basilica (50php)

1500/pax minimum of 10

Email me at for reservation and payment details.

Mt. Daguldol with Corinthian Architects

The idea to climb for UAP Manila Corinthian Chapter's summer outing was conceived a few months back when we plan for the last quarter of the fiscal years activity.

It's something we haven't done before and I thought would be a nice idea.  We chose a mountain that's relatively easy, since we want to encourage beginners and a location that would allow for other activities.  Our Chapter Treasurer Jared Cruz, suggested Mt. Daguldol in San Juan, Batangas.  I'm familiar with the beach in Laiya, and agreed after being assured that its relatively easy.  I researched on the itinerary from other blogs and thought that we could manage the 2/10 difficulty rating.

I only posted the event invite 2 weeks prior because I was so loaded with work the weeks prior. Since we still have a budget remaining from previous activities, I did not had the event sponsored anymore. I just need to work on the logistics.  Initially, I intended to rent a bus if I have a confirmation of more than 20.  Only 13 confirmed on my event list but including the guests, I will have 24.  Knowing that some would still back out on the day itself, I decided to just get 2 vans that can accommodate up to 30.  I was able to get a rate of 5500 each for 2 days excluding diesel, toll and drivers meals.  It's still a lot cheaper compared to the bus at 21k excluding gas and toll.

The itinerary we used was that from and edited it according to our transportation arrangement.

Day 1 0600 Assembly at KFC Taft for. Buendia 0830 Pick up Levy at Robinsons Lipa 1130 ETA Brgy. Hugom; Arrange for Guides. Lunch 1300 Start Trek - Beach Front 1530 ETA Mang Lizardo's place 1730 ETA Niyugan Campsite, Set Camp 1900 Dinner / Socials
Day 2 0500 Wake up call 0520 Start Trek going to summit 0540 ETA summit 0700 ETD from summit 0730 Breakfast 0830 Break Camp 0900 Start Descent 1000 Back at Mang Lizardo's place 1100 Take Naambon Falls sidetrip (1 hr) 1200 Resume descent 1300 Back at Brgy. Hugom; head to beach resorts 1700 Depart for Manila

A few days before the climb we posted the things to bring:

1. Water Containers (Preferably 2 liters per person, water source is abundant in the mountain)
2. Sun Block and Insect Repellant
3. Trekking Sandals or Hiking Boots (No Rubber Shoes or Slippers)
4. At least 3 sets of Light Clothing (Refrain from using or packing Denim garments) Preferably Dry fit clothes and allocate 1 for swimming.
5. Tent, provide tarpaulin undersheeting for moisture protection (can be shared)
6. Food (Dinner and Breakfast only at the camp) & Cooking Equipment
7. Trail food (Jelly ace, nuts, etc.)
8. Head lamp or Flashlight
9. Waterproof your gadgets at cameras.
10. Bring extra cash.

Prior to the event, I was texting  attendees confirming if they have a tent just to be sure we have enough.

Of the 24 guests I was expecting, 16 was present at the meeting place on the day of the climb, and 1 to be picked up in Lipa.

We left around 7:30 in the morning and was in Lipa around 9AM.  We did not stop for breakfast anymore, since some already used the waiting time to grab a meal at KFC.  We arrived in San Juan, around 11 AM, and made a stop at the public market to buy the ingredients for our dinner and breakfast and the supplies we will need.  Before heading to the jump off, Foursquare recommended Marimar Bulalohan for lunch.  Its located at the gas station along the road connecting the highway to Laiya.  They have huge servings and we were able to take with us what was left of the Bulalo, Bopis and Kaldereta.

We arrived at Baranggay Hugom around 1PM.  We were informed that we don't have to trek along the beach anymore, because the road leading to the jump off is accessible by vehicles.  Our guide brought us to a resort where we parked and reserved their cottage for wash up the next day.  After some last minute preparations and hiring porters to carry some of our bags, we started the trek around 2:30 PM.

It was very hot and dry at the start especially at the main road leading to the trail to the 1st station. We were soaking in sweat when we reached the resting hut, but was hopeful that the assault  to  the next station was more gradual.  We were wrong!

My pacing becomes slower and slower as we progress.  I literally am counting my steps and would stop every 10 to catch my breath.  Me, and my climb buddy Daphne limits our rest just until some of our buddies catch up.  We want to see the sunset at the summit.

By this time, I was really looking forward to the Halo Halo Station I've read from other blogs.  I know we were getting near because we can already hear songs from a karaoke emanating from somewhere.  True enough, a few minutes later, we were at the 2nd station.  We passed by a house where 2 climbers from a different group decided not to continue anymore.  I was hoping, that my team would still push through.  We just need to motivate each other.  After having 2 servings of Halo Halo, we were on our way to the third station.

Along the trail is a clearing that offers a view of the bay.  Most parts are forested shading us from the sun, but there are only a few breaks from the assault.  My legs and back are close to giving up by this time, but seeing how far we are into the trek, there's no way I'm giving up.

It took us 3 hours to reach the last resting hut before the Niyogan Campsite.  At this point, we are on the last stretch of the climb.  My motivation is to catch the sunset and lay comfortably in my tent.  We arrived at another stop selling Buko Juice a few minutes later.  That was the Niyogan Campsite, but instead of settling there, we trekked further to a better clearing.  When we reached the area, it was already occupied by a few group of mountaineers.  Although the sunset at this area was breath taking, we decided to push 10 minutes further to the summit, where the clearing is wider and offers a better view of the ocean.  Finally, we found the perfect spot, and settled on our camp area after almost 4 hours of trekking.

After pitching our tent, we immediately started preparing our meals.  One by one, our other companions arrive.   It was already dark when the last of our members reached the camp.

We shared on Hotdogs, what was left of lunch, Sinigang na Corned Beef and Kare Kareng Gulay for dinner.  It started to drizzle as we were eating, but luckily the rain didn't pour.

I was amazed at the strength of my companions.  My former professor is 54 years old, and the others were first timers, but nobody gave up.  Somehow, we took on different roles for the team.  Some went ahead so we can secure our campsite and get started with dinner, while the others supported each other every step of the climb making sure nobody's left behind.  It was really a test of strength and will power, and I think we passed with flying colours.  The rest of the evening was filled with stories of the trek.

We were so tired for socials that only half of the Emperador Light was consumed.

We woke up to a cold foggy morning.  After warming myself with coffee, I volunteered to get water from the source 10 minutes away so we can cook rice for breakfast.  After eating, and picture taking, we cleared the camp so it wouldn't be too hot on our way down.

The descent was faster.  We were stopping on stations one after the other, and it only took us less than 3 hours to reach the Jump-off.  Initially, we were suppose to have lunch at the cottage and order food from one of the Turo Turo in the area, but our accomplishment that weekend was too great that it calls for a celebration.  Instead, I decided to bring them to Sulyap in San Pablo after washing up and having light snack at the beach.

Happy Trekker L-R: Jared, Ana, Eileen, Angelo, Vhic, Gabbie, RAMM, Sheyne, Syoti, Candy, Ryan, Allan, Omar, Ludel, Levy, Alpha, Daphne

We left Laiya at 1 PM and arrived in San Pablo an hour later.  While waiting for our orders, the others took time to tour the property and gallery.  The place and the food was the perfect reward for our accomplishments that weekend.

Photos grabbed fro Sheyne, Eileen and Sir Gabbie's album.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chef Laudico Guevarra's Buffet

The 1920's House turned restaurant

I was inspecting a project site in Mandaluyong with my best friend along Lawson St. in Addition Hills last week, and it was him who suggested the idea of trying out Guevarra's a few corners away along Argonne St.

Tucked hidden from the main streets of San Juan and Mandaluyong is Chef Laudico Guevarras's.  It's a 1920's house that is converted into a buffet restaurant showcasing the culinary masterpieces of Chef Roland and Chef Jacqueline Laudico.

From the narrow streets, you will be guided through the entrance gate to the parking area.  We were a bit early for dinner, but I'm guessing it's more challenging during peak hours and weekends.

Inside, the halls and rooms of the house were converted in dining areas, and function rooms.  The decors are simple,  reflecting a vintage vibe with old photographs and art hanging from white panelled walls.

A huge hall on the side of the house showcases the creations of our local Masterchefs, displayed on a long buffet station.  Don't hassle yourself in making choices because you need to try everything.  My favourite would be the Lechon and the Angus Beef Kare Kare.

What's even more admirable about the restaurant is the price.  They are actually cheaper than some of the buffet restaurants in Malls.

Check our their Father's Day rate:

Please take note, that dining is done in batches, so be mindful of the time to maximise your meals.  If you arrived late, say 6 PM, you can opt to avail the early dinner rate for the remaining hour, or just wait until 7:30 PM for the full 3 hour dinner service.  The only difference with the batches is the price and the time constrains, but the food is just the same.

The Culinary Masterpieces of Chef Roland and Chef Jacquilene Laudico

One of the function room, for a more intimate gathering

It's a good place to bring your family for any occasion.  I will be coming back with friends and this time, will ensure enough space in my stomach to sample everything!

Follow them on Facebook
387 P. Guevarra St. cor. Argonne St., Addition Hills San Juan, 1500 Manila, Philippines705 1811 / 705 1874 / 502 5006 / 0917 311 2222Today 11:00 am - 2:00 pm, 7:30 pm - 10:30 pm

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Marikina's Pan de Amerikana

I'm assuming most city dwellers would least choose Marikina as a weekend destination, but you'll be surprised with what this city has to offer, especially for foodies.

The list of the must visit restaurants are endless and for this one, I choose to explore the most popular which is Pan de Amerikana.

We just finished our sportsfest at Marikina Sports Complex and decided to spend what remains of the morning for brunch at this place before going to the office.

As what the name suggests, I was expecting a bakery, but from the street, I can see that its more of a garden set up that reminded me of Cafe by the Ruins in Baguio and Kublai's Place in Davao.

Near the entrance is where they take your orders from a menu board behind the counter.  The food offerings consisted of classic filipino favorites, but their price is very reasonable.

The garden dining area is shaded with twigs as trellis.  On one side is pond and on the other corner is giant chessboard where you can play while waiting for your order.

I ordered Tinumok (ground pork wrapped with taro leaves in coconut cream sauce, 60 pesos) and Crispy Mushroom (50 pesos as an appetizer).

I'm definitely coming back here with friends!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Photoholic Pahiyas with Travefactor

It was PHL360 that first introduced me to Travelfactor and the many packaged tours they offer.  It was a web based travel show that documents bloggers as they visit 4 different destinations located on the four major directions of the country.  Sta. Ana, Cagayan for North, Bicol for East, El Nido for West and Cagayan de Oro for South.

Watch the full series here:

As one of the major presenter of the show, I went to visit their site.  That was the first time I was introduced to the many packaged tours they offer.  Admittedly, i would visit their site to grab some itinerary and check on interesting places to visit and took more than a year to actually join them for Photoholic Pahiyas.

I remember visiting the site last January only to find out the all the slots are filled.  To my surprise, when I checked on the site last April, they opened up more slots so I made my reservation that day.  I almost didn't make the payment deadline.  I was suppose to pay at their office in Pasig, but could not find a parking slot.  I just went back to the office hoping that they're still open past 7 PM.  Luckily, they were!  I think they have a pre-event meeting for a trip somewhere.

A week before the trip, I received a more detailed itinerary and what to expect.  The instruction was to be at El Pueblo in Ortigas by 4:30 AM.  Because of my busy schedule, I did not sleep anymore and just waited until it was time for me to prepare and commute my way to the meeting place.

When I arrive at Mcdonalds, theres already a line of participants registering and claiming their shirts and tags.  We waited about 30 minutes for the others, afterwards we boarded the bus that would take us to Tayabas for an early lunch.

I used the ravel time too catch up on sleep.  we made a quick stop along SLEX when finally, we arrived at Palaisdaan sa Tayabas an hour early from our itinerary.  Since they were still preparing our meals, we took the time to tour the restaurant.  As what the name suggest, dining huts are scattered on  huge pond connected by bamboo rafts.  Function halls are also available for big groups.

Palaisdaan sa Tayabas
Our lunch consisted of vegetables, grilled pork belly and Tilapia in coconut cream sauce.  Delicacy that made Quezon famous is being sold near the entrance.   They have Budin (Cassava Cake) and Yema Cake from Rodillas.  I should have bought the cakes here.  The lines in Lucban were just as long as the parade itself.

I still haven't tasted Rodilla's Yema Cake!  I should have bought one here!

Here, I was able to taste Pilipit.  It's very similar to Churroz but is made from squash, and Butchi (glutinous rice dough filled with sweet Ube).
Pilipit and Butchi

After lunch, we rested a bit until it was time for us to go back to the bus for the short ride to Lucban Town.  We parked far from the town centre.  Some opted to take the tricycle, but I chose to walk since I don't want to miss out on the happenings on the side streets.

There are more and more tourists as you approach the church.  The main plaza and side streets were filled with stalls selling everything from souvenirs to household items and food.

Along the main street are the famous Lucban landmarks.  Buddy's that made the Pansit Habhab popular in Manila and the only authorised sseller of Rodillas Yema Cake, which you would not miss because of the long line at the entrance.

Lucban Church

After visiting the church, I walked my way to the procession route where the houses where decorated with the local produce in thanksgiving to the town's patron saint San Isidro Labrador.

The houses made colourful with the decorations are a sight to behold.  Some made more effort than the others but all showcased their creativity and artistry.

Its very difficult to get a good shot because a lot of people are doing the same. But, here are some of what I got.

Dancing Vegetables

My Striptees is just as colourful as the decorations!  I totally belong!

Healthy Street food! Crispy Mushrooms!

Doing what the local do!  Pansit Habhab for only 10 pesos!

It took me more than 2 hours to completely circle the street under the scorching heat of the sun, but it was all worth it.  Every house sells their own version of Pansit Habhab.  I gave in to one of the stalls that has a fresh batch prepared.  I was given a serving on a banana leaf for 10 pesos.  A drizzling of the local vinegar adds flavour.

There's also a house decorated with giant mushroom that sells Crispy Mushroom.  It's actually Oyster mushrooms drenched in flour then deep fried.  It's popular to western tourists.

I also chanced upon a store that sells Leche Puto.  A box with with 25 small pieces costs 180 pesos.  This popular delicacy of steamed rice cake is made special with a custard topping.  I'm also not leaving without bringing home their famous Longganisa and the Cassava Cake.  I got myself a woven bag for 20 pesos to carry all these things.

The experience was tiring but fun.  Pahiyas is something that each Filipino should experience.  It showcases our hospitable nature and the richness of our culture.

In hindsight, I hope the tour guides offered more information about the festival.  Its relevance and history.  It doesn't have to be something detailed.  To me that would differentiate them from a transport service.  They were really nice though and as much as I love the fact that they allow us to discover things for our ourselves, we also don't want to miss out on anything.  I would have love to know who prepares the best  Pansit Habhab, or where to get the best Longganisa, or where Leche Puto is located and the other must do's!  Little things that would have made it more convenient for us!

Friday, May 9, 2014

OUTings Launch and Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert

Our company was invited to help support the launching of OUTings last May 8, 2014.

OUTings is the newest brand of the consortium of leading travel agencies in the Philippines: Afro-Asian Travel and Tours, Rajah Travel and Tours and Travel Warehouse Inc. This newest brand offers alternative domestic and international tours for the LGBT community.  Among the packages they offer is the Amsterdam Gay Pride, and an Asian Cruise with activities suited to the LGBT lifestyle. 

I'm very optimistic about the brand.  I just hope they would offer more domestic options and more affordable rates.

I remember coming up with the same idea.  Imagine going on group tour on board a bus much like Priscilla, with good-looking tour guides to take care of the travellers needs.  On board services includes massage for long trips and games.

After the short program for he launch that included a fashion show and messages from sponsors that I missed because I was late, we were treated to the technical rehearsal viewing of Priscilla Queen of the Dessert musical at Resorts World Newport Performing Arts Theater.

The performance was good, and the story line remained true to the film.  I felt that the stage was too big for the production.  It was lacking the flamboyance and exaggeration I would expect from a Musical about Drag Queens.  Nevertheless, I was singing along with the songs famous from the movie.

All in all, It was fun to watch and worthy of seeing the films musical adaptation.

Monday, May 5, 2014

My First Tattoo from Chilli ank Ink

For a long time, I always wanted to get inked.  It started when I set up our booth at Dutdutan a few years back. Victoria Court was one of the participating sponsor for the biggest event in the Ink industry.

I almost got myself inked that time, but was undecided on the artwork.  Also, i find it too expensive.

Then came a promo in Groupon offering a 65% discount for Black and Grey Tattoos.  I bought the 5x5 size worth 6000 pesos for only 1800.  My only problem now is the artwork.

I was looking for something that would best describe me as a person.  I'd like to be known as a traveler and and explorer.  I am constantly mobile and in a constant search of adventure.  I thought a compass would be the most appropriate symbol.

I came upon this artwork online and was immediately drawn to it.  But, for my first tattoo, I don't want want it to be something I just downloaded, I need to add a personal touch to it.  I need to add something that would describe me as a designer.

On my table that time were carved wooden scroll moulding left over from a project.  I then re sketched my tattoo integrating baroque scrolls inspired by the items on my table.  I also changed the major directions initials to Tagalog.  H for North, T for South, K for West and S for East.

With my finished artwork done, I then went to Chilli and Ink to have it done after scheduling my appointment.

While waiting, I was advised by the owner, that a crew from IBC 13 will be featuring their restaurant, and if it would be OK if they include me in the shoot.  Just my luck! I agreed not realizing that this might capture my pain on live TV.  I can't change my mind anymore, especially after they started the shoot with the owner introducing the the place, the food and the services offered.  It is an interesting concept after all.

After the tattoo artist Ryan Larosa prepped his things, I was called to the small both behind the dining area to get started.  The first contact was tolerable.  Painful but tolerable.  Then came the interview.  Fortunately, we had to stop the pricking while I answer the interviewers questions, because the sound of the equipment interferes with my response.  Otherwise, I would have stuttered with the pain.

Two hours into the session, the tolerable part of the ordeal is becoming less and less, and more and more painful.  After more than 3 hours, we were done.

I ended up paying additional 2000 pesos, because my design went beyond the 5x5 limit.  I should gotten myself another voucher, but was so impressed with the skill of the artist and did not mind the additional bucks.  Now I'm contemplating of expanding into the shoulder area, but still undecided with the design.  I'm also coming back to try their spicy food offerings!

Check out Chilli and Ink through their FB Page:

and their Groupon Deal:

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 ...