Masbate has to be the most underrated travel destination in the Philippines. It is nestled at the center of the Philippine Archipelago, surrounded by Burias and Ticao Pass in the North, San Bernardo Strait to the east, Sibuyan Sea to the West and Visayan Sea to the South. Perfect for those who want to be at one with nature! Here’s the rundown of what to do in the islands of Masbate:Continue reading “A Tourist’s Guide to the Masbate Province’s Unspoilt Islands (and a BONUS!)”
Every time I go home in Koronadal City, South Cotabato, I always tend to stay in our house the whole day because that’s my comfort zone (and I’m a lazy person). I don’t have that much time roaming around the city because I prefer sleeping in my old room and hibernate. However, as years goes by, I observed that our small city is getting a number of investments and I can personally see it from the new buildings and business establishments.Continue reading “Budget-Friendly: Eighty Eight Hotel in Koronadal City, South Cotabato”
Cebu city or also known as the Queen City of the South is one of my favorite places in the country because I have been in the city for many times. The location is close to my heart because of its rich culture and history, delectable food that is available everywhere, and lots of wonderful places to visit.Continue reading “A Day Tour in Cebu City”
SECOND DAY (SABTANG)
After a chill NORTH BATAN trip, now it’s time to explore the nearby island, SABTANG.
Sabtang, is one of the municipalities of Batanes that is comprised of 6 barangays namely Chavayan, Malakdang, Nakanmuan, Savidug, Sinakan, and Sumnanga.
Since the island is only accessible by a boat ride, we took a tricycle going to Ivana Port from the town of Basco in order for us to discover Sabtang island. It’s roughly 30-minute boat ride going to the town proper of Sabtang and it cost Php 100 per person for one way.
REMEMBER: Don’t forget to pay the environmental fee worth Php 200 per person at Sabtang Tourism Office
TIP: Take the earliest boat ride going to the island to avoid strong waves
This is one of the best parts when visiting Batanes– checking out all the traditional Ivatan stone houses. These shelters serve as shields against strong storms and typhoons hitting the island that is usually happening every year.
This place is most likely the first stop when you are in Sabtang.
MORONG BEACH/NAKABUANG BEACH
Morong beach is only one of the few beaches in Batanes where you are allowed to swim. The waves are also calm and meek during a good weather. The fine and white sand of Morong beach is perfectly made for your sensitive feet, thus you’ll really enjoy the place.
Unfortunately, the weather was not that good when we visited the beach. We instead enjoy the view, the mutual relationship of the wind and the wave, and the sprinkle of the rain brought by the monsoon wind. So it’s advisable to visit Sabtang during summer season.
Chavayan is also a village for stone houses and it’s a place for the Sabtang Weavers Association where local women weave traditional headdresses made of dried palm leaves that are used to protect the Ivatans from sunlight or rain.
Chamantad-Tinyan Viewpoint offers the best view spot in Sabtang where you can see wonderful cliffs and the vast Pacific Ocean. On the area, you can purchase some good local delicacies and products.
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH (Sidetrip)
Since we already have finished a half-day tour in Sabtang, our tour guide took us for a sidetrip in Fountain of Youth or locally known as Rakuh-a-idi Spring in Mahatao. The design of the mini infinity pool is man-made, but the place will assure you that the water is coming from a natural spring.
You can bring your food and enjoy eating in the hut located near the pool. But don’t forget to bring a garbage bag in case you will have trashes after eating.
When you want to visit this serene and peaceful place, you need to take a trek for about 30 minutes. So be ready with your trekking or comfortable shoes and extra strength for this activity.
Beauty and Batanes (3/3)
Almost all goods and services in Cebu do have the same rate range as Metro Manila’s. Sometimes as travellers or tourists, we always have a budget plan when it comes to our food, fare, and a place to stay. And when you’re in Cebu, worry not about your budget because Southpole Central Hotel perfectly caters to tourists and travellers who prefer budget-friendly accommodations without compromising a good sleep.
Southpole Central Hotel is located at 29 Junquera Street, Cebu City. It’s just near the seaport and shopping malls in the city. The hotel is just beside the main campus of University of San Carlos and few blocks away from the famous street of Colon.
The hotel has 3 room categories; Superior (PhP 1,800/night), Deluxe (PhP 2,100/night), and the Business Suite Room (PhP 2,400/night). Room rates are affordable if you will base it to other hotels in the metro.
I booked 2 superior rooms for 3 nights together with my parents. That already includes breakfast for 2 persons for each room. We mainly used the rooms as sleeping quarters and baggage area because we really intended to have tours in the city and meet some close friends who are already living in Cebu.
All room types have either 2 singles beds or 1 single bed and 1 double bed. The room is fully air-conditioned and has basic room amenities like telephone, LCD television with cable channels, 2 bottled water, a work desk, and an open cabinet. Guests can also access and enjoy the free wifi of the hotel.
On the other hand, comfort room provides a cold and hot shower with comfort room essentials such as shampoo, soap, dental kit, and a bidet. And if it’s a hassle to bring your own bath towel, the budget hotel has a couple for you.
For a cheap accommodation in Southpole Central Hotel, it offers a breakfast buffet to start your day full and right. If you stay for more than a day in Southpole, you may claim your meal stub daily at the front desk so you can avail of the breakfast. The buffet is open from 7:00 am – 10:00 am only.
While if you prefer having ala carte orders, the hotel has a mini restaurant located in the ground floor just beside the front desk. The outlet offers different cuisines from appetizers to desserts.
Staying in a hotel is worthwhile if the service that you expect is above par. But sometimes you will really think that staying in cheap hotels or any lodging establishments might compromise the service. But Southpole proved me wrong, staff in the hotel were great and all smiling.
There’s one instance that I have a room service because I got hungry. The staff who is assigned for the food I ordered gave me a wrong amount of change from a purchase I’ve made. I didn’t even notice it until he called me on the phone. Then swiftly, he gave the remaining change.
Honesty is indeed the best policy. I’ll rate the service and honesty with 4/5.
Soutpole’s facilities are just average, well it’s a budget hotel. But I’ll just point out some factors that may affect the entire stay of a guest (1) The rust on shower and its hose is visible, (2) The bed doesn’t have a duvet. In my own view, I just felt like duvet is a basic amenity in any hotel businesses, and (3) I noticed that there mosquitoes in the lobby and in the hallway which might irritate the guests.
But the bed and pillows are really comfortable. I didn’t have hard time sleeping because normally, if the pillow is not that comfortable and not in line with my preference, I find it hard to sleep.
The hotel’s buffet breakfast is just okay. Nothing really special but I guess it’s fair enough for the money I spent on my stay at Southpole. It’s 3/5.
I can say that my whole stay and experience in Cebu was great. Maybe because there is Southpole Central Hotel that didn’t break my wallet for the accommodations. It served as my sleeping quarter and baggage area for my stuff everytime I leave and discover Cebu City. The place is also safe because only the guests who have keycards can exclusively use the elevator going to their respective floors.
The outcome of the accommodation in the hotel was overall satisfying in a way. I can recommend this budget hotel to those who are looking for a place to stay that will not greatly affect their budget when visiting Cebu. I will give this a 3.5/5.
SOUTHPOLE CENTRAL HOTEL is located at 29 Junquera St., Cebu City, Philippines.
It was November of 2017 when we visited the wonderful province of Batanes. The whole tour was full astonishments and amazements as we discover the place. We barely have 4 days and 3 nights to wander around the province.
Batanes is one of the provinces of the Philippines located at the northernmost part of the country. It is under Cagayan Valley region (Region II) and is the smallest in population and land area.
FIRST DAY (NORTH BATAN TRIP)
When we arrived in Batanes, we didn’t waste our time just to rest. We took advantage of the beautiful weather during that time because in the Philippines, November is a rainy season.
TIP: don’t forget to pay the ecotourism fee worth Php 350 upon arrival at the airport (this will be needed during your trips in Basco)
We immediately went to the lodging house to leave our stuff before starting the trip. My colleague and I stayed at Palangud Inn (Nanay Cita’s Homestay) for Php 350 per night per person.
Tricycle is the main means of transportation in Basco. You can rent a tricycle for the North Batan trip for PhP 1,000 per tricycle that can accommodate 3-4 persons. North Batan trip can possibly be finished in half a day.
TIP: Always bring water and snacks during your trip just in case you’ll get thirsty and hungry along the way
MT. CARMEL CHAPEL
Locally known as “Tukon” Chapel or the Mt. Carmel Chapel was opened last May 2008. This chapel is inspired from the traditional stone houses of Ivatans that is made to stand against storms and typhoons as the province is open for such phenomenon.
We didn’t have the opportunity to go inside the church because during that time, the owners are doing some maintenance to enhance the chapel. Nevertheless, the beauty of the outside appearance already speaks of the charming interiors of the church.
Mt. Carmel Chapel is just a walking distance from Basco Pag-Asa Weather Station Complex or known as Tukon Radar Station. This station also served as a lighthouse way back.
A mix of art and homey feel, Fundacion Pacita is a unique boutique hotel located in a hill at Brgy. Chanarian, Tukon, Basco. The hotel offers a breathtaking view of the West Philippine Sea, Pacific Ocean and an astonishing landscape of Batanes.
The place is open to the public and will give you a chance to see the artsy side of the hotel. There are number of artworks inside which vary from different types. Fundacion Pacita also have several projects that give funds to different activities of Ivatan artists and other art events in Batanes.
If you have enough budget for a stay, you can book at Fundacion Pacita to feel more of the place and its distinct style.
IDJANG FORTRESS AND DIPNAYSUPUAN JAPANESE TUNNEL
In Batanes, “Idjang” is a fortress to protect the people from war. This has served as their shield from combat ages ago. There are 4 Idjangs that can be found all throughout Batanes and the most popular is the Savidug Idjang. We saw this triangular-shaped hilltop from afar with lush green grasses and a wonderful view of the sea.
On the other hand, we also visited Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel. This has been a hideout of the Japanese soldiers during the World War II. It is an interconnected tunnel and has five entrances that will lead you to Taytay or Tukon.
TIP: Bring a flashlight if you want to go inside the tunnel
VALUGAN BOULDER BEACH
Scattered stones and pebbles will welcome you when you first step at the Valugan Boulder Beach. This is not the usual beach your are expecting, no fine and white sand as you will compare it to Boracay’s and Palawan’s. You are not allowed to swim because of the strong waves and winds, but the scenery and the sound of the rushing waves are more than enough to leave you astounded.
TIP: Wear comfortable rubber shoes to protect you from stones
VAYANG ROLLING HILLS
Just a few kilometers away from Basco’s poblacion, the Vayang Rolling Hills share one of the most beautiful views of Batanes. It is a perfect chemistry between the green hills and the blue sea horizon that will make you decide to stay in the place for quite a time.
The place has livestocks such as cows and goats that is a part of some Ivatan’s daily living. And more than the view of the place, you will really appreciate how hardworking the locals are.
BASCO LIGHTHOUSE AND NAIDI HILLS
The Basco Lighthouse in one of the 3 lighthouses of the province of Batanes. And the nearest from the main town is the Basco Lighthouse. It is located on top of Naidi Hills and will allow you to see the 360-degree view of the surroundings of the lighthouse. You will more appreciate the place during sunsets because, I must say, the view is more admirable.
And to add an exciting experience while staying in Basco, you can go on biking within the town. You can rent for only Php 25 per hour for bikes with basket and Php 50 per hour for mountain bikes.
TIP: You can rent at Cielo General Merchandise Store just located in the town
Find out more of my Batanes trip on my next blog posts.!
Beauty and Batanes (3/3)
Currently, the Philippines has 7641 beautiful islands. These islands are rich in culture, different beliefs, and of course delectable food. The recipes may vary from the traditional ones to fusion cuisines. And in order to try all the specialties from different regions, you really need to travel all around the country.
But there is one food hall that offers authentic Filipino cuisines made available to all guests– Islas Pinas.
Islas Pinas is a food hall located at the ground floor of DoubleDragon Plaza, DD Meridian Park, Pasay City. This is a food and heritage village that showcases different cuisines from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao and had a soft opening last June 8, 2018.
The outlet is divided in 5 zones, Vernacular Area, Heritage, Urban, Ocean Region, and the Mountainous Region.
Upon entering the area, you will be welcomed by the okir carvings on the store’s wall. Okir are patterns found in many muslim arts. Accordingly, this area is inspired by the pre-colonization period of the Philippines.
The store offers food sets they call “sinag” and “alamat”. Sinag which means “ray of light” that represents the all-day Filipino breakfast just like tapsilog. And alamat, traditional folkloric stories or customs that represent regional dishes.
The heritage zone is inspired by Vigan’s famous Calle Crisologo. All cuisines that are usually sold in a bilao like pansit (fried noodles), puto (rice cake) are available here. They also sell fresh bread in the panaderya (bakery) area.
This is maybe my favorite part of the food hall, the urban zone. The area where you can find your favorite “tusok-tusok” or street food. For only PhP 20.00, you can either buy set of fish ball, squid ball, or kikiam. The usual buko juice that you can see in streets of Metro Manila is ready on the side.
OCEAN ZONE (Pampang)
As of the moment, ocean zone is still under construction and will be available in few months time. Basically, this zone will offer live seafood that is available for customized food request. You will get to enjoy eating in their “balangay” (plank boat) inspired dining area.
The mountainous zone is obviously inspired from the high areas of the Philippines. This will serve as a dining space for the guests who prefer an elevated place.
Islas Pinas offers not just a good Filipino food but also the Philippine’s most recognized landmarks. There is the rice terraces amphitheater for cultural activities and performances, a life-sized bahay kubo and chocolate hills dining area, Vigan and Paoay church inspired food hall, a jeepney and sari-sari store in the urban zone.
The outlet has a generous space that can accommodate up to 700 guests. And what’s unique about Islas Pinas is they have a souvenir shop just inside the area that sells Filipino products. It’s more like a memorable dining for all the guests when they buy stuff inside the shop.
For the payment, Islas Pinas adopts a some sort of cashless system. If you tried dining in Thailand’s food courts, this is somewhat like the same payment scheme that is being applied in the outlet. Upon entering the hall, you need to get a card that will serve as your money when buy food from different stalls. And when you’re done, you need to surrender the card to the cashier just located in the exit and pay for the food you consumed.
All cuisines in Islas Pinas represent the whole country from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The menu was created by chef Margarita Forés, 2016 Asia’s Best Female Chef.
Since the outlet believes that the authentic Filipino food comes from the household, they approached chefs and home cooks from different regions in the country to brainstorm for the restaurant’s menus and recipes. With this, we can say that Islas Pinas indeed showcases culture, tradition, and heritage through food and experience.
Overall, though the hall is still not complete, the outlet’s operation is fully working to give a warm welcome to the guests. Moreover, all guests are assured with the freshness and authenticity of all cuisines available at Islas Pinas.
Disclaimer: This feature is not sponsored by Islas Pinas.
In the heart of Cebu city, a hotel and conference center is located that offers cool, clean, and comfy accommodations.
QUEST HOTEL AND CONFERENCE CENTER CEBU
I stayed in Quest Hotel and Conference Center for business purposes. Since the hotel is positioned in Cebu’s business district, I personally chose this for the second time around. The property is also a walking distance to shopping malls, banks, and corporate companies.
The hotel is affiliated with Aston International Hotels, managed and operated by Filarchipelago Hospitality Inc., a joint venture of Filinvest Development Corporation and Singapore-registered Archipelago International Pte, Ltd.
Quest Hotel and Conference Center is a three-star hotel that offers 427 guestrooms and suites including 5 executive suites fitted with bath tubs and 36 premier deluxe rooms with balcony. The corner deluxe rooms offer 180 degree views of the city with 2-sides of the room fitted with floor to ceiling glass windows and the most requested room category of the property. The hotel also gives new meaning to events such as conferences, meetings, and social gatherings.
During the 5 days and 4 nights stay at Quest, I was allocated in room number 1716, a deluxe room with a queen-sized bed that has a great view of the peaceful city of Cebu.
TIP: You can request for a higher floor to have a view of the city
Aside from having a nice view, the queen-sized bed is perfect for my stay with comfortable pillows and duvet. The room is also spacious with 25 sqm in area that can accommodate 2 adults and 2 kids or 3 adults.
Quest’s deluxe room is well lighted and has complete amenities such as work desk, mini bar, safety deposit box, LED TV, telephone, iron and ironing board (upon request), cabinet, hair blower, electric kettle, and more.
The comfort room has the right amount of space and has bathroom essentials, cold and hot shower, toothbrush and toothpaste, and bidet. It’s totally clean and is perfect for individuals who are very particular with comfort rooms, just like me.
A three-star hotel will not be completed without proper facilities. The hotel offers a gym for guests to stay in shape while on vacation located at the 6th floor that is open from 6:00 am – 9:00 pm. They also have a swimming pool and a pool bar perfect for leisure and relaxation and it’s open from 7:00 am – 9:00 pm in the 7th floor. And if one needs business transactions with IDD/NDD calls, computer or printer use, the hotels’ business center is open from 8:00 am – 1:00 am.
There are transportation options from airport transfers to car rentals that are available through concierge. Metered taxis are also readily available outside the hotel. Public transport terminal is in Ayala, right across the hotel and plies most common destinations in Cebu and nearby cities.
With the package that I booked, it includes a daily buffet breakfast at Pusô Bistro & Bar. The restaurant offers a wide variety of food to satisfy their guests every morning.
There are different choices to choose from. If you are a vegetarian, they have a vegetarian and salad corner. If you love Filipino food, there is kakanin, champorado, arroz caldo and more. If you just love a breakfast without eating heavy rice, there’s cereals, breads, waffles, and cold cuts. And if you have your kids, the restaurant has a kiddie corner too. From local to international flavors, they have it in the outlet.
Pusô Bistro & Bar is open from 6:00 am – 1:00 am. They offer ala carte orders and room service if you prefer eating inside your room. If you lack time and want to grab something to eat, Bread Library that is located in the lobby provides sandwiches, coffee, and goodies to still make your mornings great.
For my hotel review, I will base my feedback to the servqual model dimensions: Interaction Quality, Facilities Quality, and Outcome Quality.
During the check-in process, the front desk agent who catered me is doing the operations a bit slow though I’m the only one checking in. Not the usual check-in process I experienced when I first stayed in the hotel. In addition, during the check-out time, they didn’t give me my official receipt for the advance pre-payment I made last month. One FO agent told me that they will deliver the official receipt instead in my office in Manila. That’s a poor one.
Concierge team on the other hand were swift in assisting me with my luggage and it didn’t take them time to deliver my belongings in my room after checking in.
Housekeeping team is really the heart of this hotel, they give all the requests I made as much and as fast as they can. My room is well maintained when it comes to neatness and cleanliness. Even if I had a room service, they still managed to make my room having a pleasant smell.
With the service I experienced, and if not for HK and concierge team, I might give this a low rating. So it’s a 4/5.
Quest’s hotel lobby is spacious and possesses good interiors. Given the queue is long in selected seasons, guests can use the comfortable sofas and chairs while waiting. The hotel’s swimming pool is also nice because it has a pool bar on the side and if people do want to enjoy while relaxing in the pool, they can avail of food and drinks immediately. While the gym, though I didn’t use it, can still accommodate guests who are health conscious.
Inside room facilities are good too, the bed and comfort room is just right for me. The queen-sized bed is so cozy while the pillows are not too soft (which I really like). Comfort room is unblemished and everything inside functions well. But what really caught my attention is the cleanliness and smell of the room.
Buffet is not that appealing to my taste. For me, the choices are not appetizing and some food tasted really bland. Not really interested with the food they offer during breakfast. I may say it’s a 3.5/5.
If I will be asked if I want to go back in Quest Hotel when I’m in Cebu, I may say a “yes”. Mainly because I had a good sleep, the room is clean, the location of the hotel is just in the business district, and above all the service of the housekeeping team and concierge are excellent. I can even recommend it to my colleagues and family.
But food wise, the hotel can still improve on their food and beverage strategies and offerings. I know there are still lots of things they can improve on.
Overall with the outcome and the experience I gained, it’s 4/5.
QUEST HOTEL AND CONFERENCE CENTER CEBU is located at Archbishop Reyes Avenue, Cebu City. You can contact them through a telephone call at +63 32 4025999 , +63 32 2305888, +63 917 3129794 or email at email@example.com. You can also visit their social media accounts facebook , instagram and website.