Wednesday, November 11

Visitng the World's Best Island -- Palawan (Part I)

For two years in a row, Palawan has been hailed by Condé Nast Traveller as the Best Island in the World, beating Bora Bora and Maldives, two places I would love to visit too.

This is only my second time visiting Palawan; the first one was several years back at Amanpulo, long before GoPros and social media. If we weren't ready then to document our travel, we were ready now, kinda.

My husband and I were both beach buddies, and if there was one place we wanted to spend time together by ourselves, it had to be Palawan. We were lucky too because Palawan is just a couple of hours away from Metro Manila.

We knew we wanted to save as much as possible without sacrificing the quality of our stay, so we decided to scour the travel fairs for the best deals. July to September are the best months to get the coolest deals for local and international travel. We found a great El Nido Resorts deal for a 4-day stay at Pangulasian Island. We spent about $2,500 for everything including airfare, lodging and food. This is just about the normal rate for the accommodations, so in a sense, we were able to get free airfare and food.

The resort had its own aviation travel partner, whose Manila airport was smack right where Amanpulo's is. It really brought back memories. The El Nido lounge has a breakfast buffet set for us, and we had our own reserved table.

Getting to Pangulasian was very easy because everything was already arranged for us. Let's see. We rode a plane from Manila to El Nido. Then this huge jeepney took us from the runway to the airport lounge, where we were served Palawan delicacies.

It was high tide when we arrived, so we rode a speedboat from the marsh behind the lounge to get to the bay and ride the bangka to the resort. Normally, visitors have to ride a jeepney to go to the port and ride a bangka from there.

Finally, we arrive at the resort! There were probably 10-15 people who welcomed us at the shore.

They gave us these palm leaf necklaces. Fruits were waiting for us inside our villa.

This is how the villa looks inside.

(to be continued)
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Monday, November 9

Outdoor Fun this November

It's almost December, and the weather is cool. It's the perfect time to go outdoors and have fun. I recently heard about this place just a couple of hours outside Metro Manila where you can have your own outdoor adventure with your family and friends. You might have already heard of it -- Alviera SandBox.

This Christmas, they'll be having this amazing Christmas Jamboree where attendees can join arts and crafts workshops, watch live performances and participate in the games. These are all Christmas-themed so it's very timely. They can also opt to stay overnight and have a camping experience. Tents will be provided, and participants will have exclusive use of the SandBox the morning after.

If you're interested, book today and get 25% off! More details below.



Alviera offers 25% promo on premium Christmas Jamboree camping tickets until November 9
            Alviera has announced that premium "Christmas Camper" tickets are now selling at 25% off or P2,137.50 for adults and P1,313 for kids until November 9 only through online booking at Christmas Jamboree is a one-of-a-kind holiday adventure on November 28-29 at the SandBox outdoor play park in Porac, Pampanga. 
The Christmas Camper package entitles participants to all-day arts and crafts workshops, live performances and holiday games, plus overnight campsite stay, access to campsite-exclusive activities, free use of Coleman tents, exclusive use of SandBox in the morning of the second day, a bonfire treat complete with a set grilled dinner and buffet breakfast on Sunday morning. 
The "Day Dasher package", at P1,900 for adults and P1,050 for children 4 feet below, includes roundtrip transportation from Manila to Alviera, free use of SandBox attractions and access to all Christmas Jamboree Day Workshops activities such as Christmas cookie- making and designing angel souvenirs and parols. Live entertainment begins at night with the “poi” or fire dancing and a Christmas carol serenade by some of the country’s top chorale groups. Guests can perform onstage during the Merry-oke open mic session, complete with a live brass band. After the Yuletide dinner, astronomy experts will lead constellation-tracking sessions. The “Starlight Cinema” opens from 9:00 p.m. until midnight to feature Christmas movie favorites.
Christmas Campers will enjoy the entire Day Dasher offering combined with premium camping activities such as a welcome bonfire with s’mores at the exclusive Coleman campsite and ukulele jam session while enjoying hot tsokolate served with biscochio. Campers can also learn to play the ukulele during the workshop. A Christmas breakfast buffet awaits them the next morning, as well as Christmas stockings filled with surprise holiday goodies.
Both Day Dasher and Christmas Camper packages come with travel insurance, Alviera Camp Bag, and a Christmas Passport that serves as an event journal that contains raffle stubs for exciting prizes.
The Alviera Christmas Jamboree is guaranteed to inspire lasting memories with families and friends. Christmas is a time for giving and for spending time with our loved ones, and this is what a merry Christmas adventure in Alviera is all about.

Alviera celebrates the holiday season with “Christmas Jamboree,” a one-of-a-kind camping adventure that transforms SandBox into a Yuletide wonderland for families and merrymakers. John Estacio, Alviera General Manager, talks more about the activities at the event.

1.         What is “Christmas Jamboree”?

The Christmas Jamboree is a two-day Christmas-themed camp festival at the SandBox on November 28 and 29, Alviera’s outdoor version of celebrating this special season. This unique outdoor experience is filled with Christmas-themed activities that are guaranteed to make every member of the family smile, from little kids to the kids-at-heart. From arts and crafts workshops and holiday games to live performances and traditional camping treats, as well as access to the SandBox amenities. Guests can choose between the Day Dasher or Christmas Camper packages. 

2.         Why hold the Christmas Jamboree at Alviera?

Alviera is here not just to merely create an economic hub, we are also making sure that the natural beauty of Porac is preserved and highlighted. Our role as a developer is to simply enhance God’s gift to us and the best way for people to appreciate this would be to bring them closer to nature through camping.

The Alviera Christmas Jamboree gives you a glimpse of what to expect in Alviera in the future. Even at full development there will be open spaces for everyone to enjoy. More importantly, we want to provide opportunities where families can create moments they can share together.

3.         What are the activities during the Christmas Jamboree?

For day trippers, or “Day Dashers” as we call them, they will enjoy a slew of Christmas-themed activities all day until midnight. “Christmas Campers” on the other hand will enjoy Day Dasher activities as well as camping-exclusive activities that will extend until the next morning.


There will be FOUR fun tents to keep everyone thrilled and excited: CHRISTMAS COOKIE CORNER, MERRY ANGEL-MAKING, PAROL-MAKING SESSIONS, and QUIZ KRINGLE

•          Christmas Cookie Corner - customize Christmas cookies with some candy sprinkles and fondant ornaments, colorful icing, and other sweet stuff for you to decorate your own holiday treats to feast on–or to give to your loved ones
•          Merry Angel-Making- design your own traditional Filipino ornaments with a twist as you paint and decorate corn husk angels to hang on your Christmas trees and to adorn your house with your own designs

•          Parol-Making Sessions- add tails and paint your own Christmas lanterns that allow you to add your own personality to this Christmas tradition.

•          Quiz Kringle- test your Christmas knowledge and win instant treats and more raffle coupons in this fun holiday quiz bee for families and friends. The top-scoring groups get a chance to battle it out on-stage during the evening program, where they can win BIG prizes.

•          SandBox Facilities- guests can try exciting rides and facilities of SandBox all-day long such as our First Roller Coaster Zip Line in Asia, the hanging obstacle course of the Air Walk, or the tallest Giant Swing in the Philippines among others

When the night falls, get ready to take part in even MORE activities.

•          Prancing Poi- learn to dance and move with LED lights at the PRANCING POI booth, where our expert LED artists teach you the basics of poi, hoop, and other light toys.

•          Chorale Serenades- top chorale groups in the country will serenade guests in a one hour Chorale Concert

•          Merry-oke Sessions- sing along and rock the stage with your favorite Christmas songs complete with accompaniment of a live brass band

•          Twinkle Tracking- track the Christmas sky for the brightest stars with professional telescopes stationed along with astronomy experts to help you view the night sky like never before.

•          Saint Nick’s Wishing Corner- make a wish or simply take an epic selfie with Santa Claus

•          Starlight Cinema- wind down the night and celebrate the season with some beautiful, heartwarming Christmas movies where you are invited to lay down your mats on the grass, cuddle up with your family and friends right under the stars


•          Jamboree Jingle Night- sing around the campfire with ukuleles or learn the instrument with the ukulele workshop while sharing free hot tsokolate and biscochio

•          Santa’s Campfire Smores- enjoy free grilled set dinner and roast smores

•          Christmas Stocking Surprise- design your Christmas stockings, hang them on your tents, and let Santa fill it with holiday goodies

•          Merry Morning Buffet- breakfast favorites await you the following morning to keep the campers energized before they take the SandBox adventure

4.         How much are the packages and what are the inclusions?

Packages to the Alviera Christmas Jamboree come in Day Dasher and Christmas Camper variants.

Day Dasher, at 1,900 per person, includes roundtrip transportation from Manila to Alviera, free use of SandBox attractions, access to all Christmas Jamboree Day Workshops, passes to the evening stage shows and entertainment and the Starlight Cinema.

Christmas Camper at P2,850 per person entitle participants to all Day Dasher inclusions, plus overnight campsite stay, access to campsite-exclusive activities, free use of Coleman tents, exclusive use of SandBox in the morning of day 2, a bonfire treat complete with grilled set dinner and a merry buffet breakfast on Sunday morning.

As a family event, Alviera introduces special rates for kids, at P1,050 for Day Dasher, and P1,750 for Christmas Camper for children 4 feet below. Both packages come with travel insurance, Alviera Camp Bag, and Christmas Passport for raffle prizes.

5.         Do you have the same capacity for your campsite?

For Alviera Christmas Jamboree, we like to be able to accommodate more participants especially the families so we increased the capacity of our campsite by 50% from 200 to 300. This is also as a result of the very positive reception of our guests during the Brightscape.

6.         Will comfort amenities be available for the Christmas Campers?

Yes, similar to Brightscape, there will be ample showers and toilet facilities for exclusive use at the camp. Sanitation, environmental care and of course, safety and security are all primary in Alviera.

7.         Will the event grounds be open all night for during the Jamboree?

No. The evening ends after the last movie to be shown in our Starlight Cinema. SandBox will resume operating early the next day at 7am for Christmas Campers to enjoy our attractions and facilities exclusively until 10:00 AM.

8.         Can we cook or bring our own food to the campsite?

No, participants are not allowed to bring meals or cook food. There will be ample food concessionaires during the event and we also added a free grilled set dinner as well as hot tsokolate and biscochio for those availing of our Christmas Camper package.

9.         Where can people go in case of emergency/injuries?

As part of our standard safety procedures in Alviera, there will be standby security, ambulance as well as medical team composed of doctor and nurses to assist participants in case of emergency or untoward incidents.

10.       How can guests go to SandBox in Alviera?

From the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), take the Subic–Clark–Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) Exit then get off at the Porac Exit. The Porac Exit is just a short drive from the SCTEX Exit. A minute or two after getting off the Porac Exit, you will see Alviera on your right where SandBox is located.

For the Christmas Jamboree, we will be offering packages that include roundtrip transfers from Manila.

11.       Who is your partner in designing the event?

We teamed up with adventure travel outfitter Travel Factor and Coleman as our camp provider. They were also our partners in the Brightscape Campfest.

12.       How can guests reserve their slots at the Christmas Jamboree?

For reservations and booking, guests can visit the Travel Factor website at

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Filipino Comfort Food & Emotions

Every time we go to my Lola's place when I was a kid, we always have lunch at Max. It has become one of my favorites. We always order the spring chicken, lumpiang shanghai and sinigang. I remember me and my sister fighting over the last piece of sweet potato fry. Oh, and I always get a side of sugar -- for the sweet potato fries, of course.

In the Philippines, Max is synonymous to Max's fried chicken. But they serve other yummy comfort food like kare-kare (oxtail stew), nilaga (clear beef/pork soup), lumpiang sariwa and all the other delicious Filipino food you can think of.

During Max's 70th birthday bash, we were served the all-time favorites and more. I brought Allie with me, and needless to say, I think that Max's has become her favorite now too. She couldn't stop eating the chicken, fresh lumpia and the sweet potato fries.

We were shown its TVC titled 'Uuwi Sa 'yo' (Coming Home To You), and oh my gosh, I got too emotional. My eyes were suddenly watery. It was probably because of hormone overload. See for yourself and cue the tears. Oh my gosh, I still cry whenever I watch it.

Thank you Max's for having us on your 70th anniversary. May you be forever be in our hearts and our tummies.

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