Experiencing PAL’s In-flight service on board the Boeing 777-300ER

The Manila-Toronto trip was a lot of firsts for me and PAL. The Manila-Toronto trip was PAL’s first non-stop flight to Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Canada using their newly delivered Boeing 777-300 ER. For me, it was my first time to set foot on Canada, first time to get business class service in an international flight and first time to cross the international date line. Yey!

The Manila to Toronto non-stop trip takes approximately 17 hours. That’s a really long time to waste. Here’s a list of activities that I was able to enjoy while on board PAL’s Boeing 777-300ER.

1. Enjoy the best cuisine from top international chefs

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Your tummy will never get empty while on board PAL’s Boeing 777-300. For the entire duration of the 16-hr flight, I have lost count on the number of meals that I had. The food served during the flight were created by top Filipino chefs.

2. Get a good sleep with full-flat Mabuhay Class seats

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Sitting through a 17-hour flight is not that easy that’s why the new Boeing 777-300 are equipped with full-flat seats for all Mabuhay class passengeres. The seats have different preset settings you can choose from. Whatever you’re doing, whether you’re working on a presentation, watching a moving or getting a good nap, you can be assured to experience great comfort.

3. Enjoy fully digital inflight personal entertainment system

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Flying 16-hours non-stop halfway across the globe will give you a pretty long time to kill boredom. During the Manila-Toronto leg of our trip, I must have watched four movies (Kimidora, Brave, What Happens in Vegas and The Day After Tomorrow) and two complete music albums from PAL’s fully digital personal inflight entertainment system. The system is preloaded with almost a hundred titles of the latest movies from different genres and several collections of music and games.

4. Power-up your gadgets

Your gadgets will never run out of power while on board the Boeing 777-300 ER. The seats, both for coach and business class are equipped with USB power points for your gadgets. Be sure to pack your USB chargers with your hand carry luggage. Business class passengers can also enjoy AC power points for their laptops and other gadgets.

 

My dive trip to Coron, Palawan

A couple of months ago, I started to engage myself into a new sport – diving. It all started after I received an invitation from Jojo the Lakwatsero and Benj from Visit Sagada to go on a check-out dive in Anilao in Mabini Batangas.

The weekend check-out dive trip became a weekly thing and we even went as far as Sabang in Puerto Galera. After the Sabang trip, I decided to finally get my certification as a diver. Since I got certified, I have made more than a dozen of recreational dives in several dive sites in Anilao, the most recent was only last week.

Francisco B. Reyes Airport in Busuanga, Palawan – everyone’s entry point to Coron.

Maybe a month ago when I’m still processing my visum usa, some of Benj’s diving friends decided to go and plan a dive to Coron, Palawan. I decided to join the trip. It was a good thing that the trip schedule is during the country’s long weekend. No work, just fun.

The Airphil Express’ Bombardier Q400 – flies the Manila to Busuanga route.

It is my first time to be here in Coron, Busuanga. I arrived yesterday via AirPhil Express‘ Bombardier Q400 turbo propeller aircraft. The Manila to Busuanga trip usually takes around 45-minutes to 1-hour, which I took as an opportunity to take a nap before landing. Francisco B. Reyes Airport, the only commercial airport in the island Busuanga is around an hour van-ride from the town of Coron.

My other friends went a few hours ahead of me. I instructed the van driver to take me to Neptune Dive Center where I left my diving equipments. It was pretty neat ‘coz the dive center is just a short walk away from Coron Village Lodge where the whole group is staying.

After waiting for Benj to get to the hotel, we went to Maquinit hot springs – one of the few touristy destinations in town. We negotiated for a tricycle to take us to the hot springs. We paid the driver 300 pesos for the whole round trip ride (100 pesos per person).

It was already dark when we arrived in Maquinit yet the place is still packed with lots of tourists. There are two small pools that spill towards a bigger communal pool. The entrance fee to the hot spring resort is P150 per person for non-Busuanga resident guests.

After the hot spring trip, we went back to the hotel, had dinner and prepare for the first dive day in Coron.

[box type=”note”]This trip is sponsored by AirPhil Express[/box]

 

Nagsasa Cove Guide: directions, tips and itinerary

It has been a while since my last trip to Nagsasa Cove yet my old posts about this hidden gem in the north are still receiving quite a number of comments from people who asking for suggested itineraries, directions on how to get to Nagsasa and other similar inquiries. Hence, I have come up with this quick guide on how to plan your own trip to Nagsasa Cove, Zambales.

What to bring?

There will be no food sources, electricity, cellular signal, proper accommodation and other usual amenities in Nagsasa Cove. It should be best that you only bring the necessary items. Canned and other instant food will come in handy. You can bring your own tent or hammock but in case you don’t have these, you have the option to rent from the tour guides in the town of San Antonio. If you’re looking at buying meat or fish for grilling, be sure to bring knife, ice chest, grill necessities, marinade among others.

How to get to Nagsasa Cove, Zambales?

This guide is for people who will be coming from Manila. The most ideal time to leave Manila is 4a.m. Try to catch the first bus leaving for Iba, Zambales from the Caloocan bus station. It will take you approximately three hours (including the stop-over in Olonggapo City, Pampanga) to get to the town of San Antonio, Zambales. Just tell the bus conductor or the bus driver that you’ll be dropping off at San Antonio. Most likely, some of the bus passengers will also be taking off at San Antonio.

Upon arriving in San Antonio, you have the option of getting breakfast at the town proper. Take advantage of this opportunity to shop for camp necessities in case you forgot something. In our case, we bought the food (fresh fish, meat, etc.) we brought from the town’s public market.

From the market, you may take a tricycle going to Barangay Pundaquit (Pundakit) where you will be renting the boat that will take you to Nagsasa Cove. It’s around 20 minutes away from the public market.

Renting a boat ride

The rate of boat rentals usually vary depending on your number. For a small boat with a capacity of four persons, the standard rate is P1,800.00 for a round trip. You have to arrange your return trip schedule with your tour guide. You can also have the option to visit the other coves like Talesayen, Silanguin and Anawangin Coves for an extra fee. You may also arrange to include island hopping to Camara and Capones islands before going back to Pundakit.

In case you didn’t bring your own tent, you may opt to rent your own tent from your tour guide. Tent rental ranges from P250/day to P600/day depending on the tent size and capacity.

At this point, it is best to turn off all your mobile phones. You won’t be able to use your phones while in Nagsasa Cove and turning them on will only drain your batteries out. There’s no cellular reception in the area and you won’t be able to charge your phone in case it drains out of power. There’s no electricityeither in Nagasasa Cove.

Should you wish to do all arrangements prior to the trip, you may contact our tour guide at 09108162974 and/or 09172022692. They will be glad to assist you with your needs.

Itinerary

Here’s a sample itinerary of my first trip to Nagsasa Cove. Though the itinerary didn’t mention, we made a side-trip to Capones Island before heading back to Pundakit. Of course, this was arranged with Kuya Kulot, our guide, for an extra fee.

DAY 1

04:00 Leave Caloocan for Iba, Zambales
06:30 Arrive at San Antonio, Zambales
06:45 Breakfast/ Palengke (for our meals)
07:45 Take a tricycle to Brgy Pundaquit
08:10 Arrive at Pundaquit
08:30 Take a boat to Nagsasa Cove
09:30 Arrive at Nagsasa Cove

Day 2
10:00 Leave for Pundaquit
11:30 Tricyle to San Antonio
11:45 Bus to Olongapo
12:30 Lunch
14:00 Bus to Manila
18:00 Arrive at Manila

Other guides to Nagsasa Cove

The Hike to Mt. Pinatubo

It was still dark when we left Manila. I was excited for this trip. Aside from the two lenses and a fully charged DSLR camera that I packed in my backpack the night before we left, I didn’t really make any serious preparations for the trip. It was my first out of town trip with the bagets, one of the few reasons to be excited.

The sun was already up when we reached Capas, Tarlac. Cai, Ada and I took advantage of the three hour trip to catch some sleep. It wasn’t too long when we were assigned to our own four-wheel ride. I’m not quite sure how things are normally done since all the trip arrangements were done by Rob and Dong.

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It took us almost an hour to get to the point where our 4×4 trucks can no longer take us. The first part of the trail to the Mt. Pinatubo crater was already stunning. For almost an hour, we have been traversing a seemingly endless valley of volcanic ashes and sand, what was left from the volcano’s eruption a couple of decades ago.

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Before, the hike towards the crater only takes an hour. The 4×4 riders used to have a sky way on top of the mountainous pile of ashes which lessens the hiking time. But after a portion of the sky way collapsed last year, the authorities have prohibited access to the shortcut, thus, doubling the visitors’ hiking time.

It nearly took us three hours to complete the hike to the crater. The terrain was rough but it wasn’t as inclined as I expected. The whole three hours were combinations of short rests, cam whoring and waiting for people to catch up the group’s pace.

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It was already noon when we arrived at the crater. The view of the picturesque crater with its emerald colored lake was our price after went through the long tiring hike. It was one of the most beautiful sceneries I have seen.

Food was not a problem for us since our tour guides have already brought with them pre-prepared packed lunch, which is part of the usual Pinatubo tour. Under the mango tree we sat while savoring the scenic view of the crater, we ate our hearty lunch.

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After resting a bit, we went down the crater to get a closer look of the emerald lake. The cold waters of the volcano was tempting enough to let it pass. After taking a few photos, we went to take a dip while the others went out for a boat ride to the other side of the crater. Too bad I didn’t get to see what the other side looks like.

At around 3pm, we started packing up and headed our for our return hike. This time, it was easier for us since the trail was mostly on a downward slope. It was already dark when we arrived in Tarlac.

It was a one good trip. I spent less than 3K and brought home an unforgettable experience and a card full of beautiful photos.

 

AirPhil Express’ Palawan AdvenTours

If you may have noticed, the last three posts that I made was all about Palawan. You see, a couple of weeks ago, we were invited to experience AirPhil Express‘ newest adventure product, the Palawan AdvenTours.

The Palawan AdvenTours is the second installment of the adventure tours and packages that they started to offer since June. The AdvenTours is quite different from the usual tour packages that you can avail from travel agents. Why? Only AdvenTours offer the widest range of exciting activities in different destinations with budget in mind.

As for our Palawan trip, we experienced the AdvenTour Package 2 which includes 3 Days and 2 nights of exciting activities and adventures in Puerto Princesa. For details on the different adventure packages, please refer to the lists below:

[toggle title_open=”AdvenTour Package 1″ title_closed=”AdvenTour Package 1″ hide=”yes” border=”yes” style=”default”]

  • 3 Days/ 2 nights accommodation with daily breakfast
  • Underground River Tour or Honda Bay Island Hopping
  • Half-Day City Tour
  • Buffet Lunch at Taraw Restaurant (if Underground River Tour) or Buffet lunch in Honda Bay
  • Services of a licensed tour guide
  • Roundtrip airport transfers
  • Van transfers
  • All boat and entrance fees
  • T-shirt for each participant
  • Travel Insurance

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[toggle title_open=”AdvenTour Package 2″ title_closed=”AdvenTour Package 2″ hide=”yes” border=”yes” style=”default”]

  • 3 Days/ 2 nights accommodation with daily breakfast
  • Underground River Tour
  • Honda Bay Island Hopping
  • Half-Day City Tour
  • Buffet Lunch at Taraw Restaurant (for Underground River Tour)
  • Buffet Lunch at a beach in Honda Bay
  • Snacks during city tour
  • Services of a licensed tour guide
  • Roundtrip Airport Transfers – All boat and entrance fees – T-shirt for each participant – Travel Insurance

[/toggle]
[toggle title_open=”AdvenTour Package 3″ title_closed=”AdvenTour Package 3″ hide=”yes” border=”yes” style=”default”]

  • 4 Days/ 3 nights accommodation with daily breakfast
  • Underground River Tour (Day 2)
  • Honda Bay Island Hopping (Day 3)
  • Half-Day City Tour
  • Buffet Lunch at Taraw Restaurant (for Underground River Tour)
  • Buffet Lunch at a beach in Honda Bay
  • Snacks during city tour
  • Services of a licensed tour guide
  • Roundtrip Airport Transfers
  • All boat and entrance fees
  • T-shirt for each participant
  • Travel Insurance

[/toggle]

These packages were designed to be flexible and the cost can be adjusted depending on your group’s budget. All of the three packages include round-trip tickets, accommodation and daily breakfast. Arrangements can be made through AirPhil Express’ hotline: Manila (02) 855-9000 or Cebu (032) 505-1616.

The AdvenTour packages are recommended to tourists who are travelling in groups who want to make the most of their budget. Enjoying Palawan doesn’t need to be expensive.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]This post is part of our trip to Puerto Princessa with AirPhil Express. This trip is a sampler of AirPhil Express’ Puerto Princesa AdvenTour packages which you can avail together with your MNL-PPS-MNL tickets. If you wish to avail the AdvenTour Package that we had, please click here.[/box]

Snorkeling at Pambato Reef

After our lunch at Pandan Island and fish feeding in Snake Island, we went to our last stop in our Honday Bay tour — the Pambato Reef.

You would be surprised that beneath the pair of floating cottages lies an underwater paradise. You don’t need special training or special equipment to have a peek at the beautiful marine ecosystem; a pair of mask and snorkel will suffice.

Unlike the previous year wherein we get to freely snorkel within the confines of the calm waters of Pambato reef, the current was quite strong during our last visit. We had to be assisted by our reef guide throughout our whole snorkeling activity. Because of the strong current, we weren’t able to explore much of the reef. For most of the time, I had to make sure that I was still holding on the rope that our guide had set for us.

Aside from snorkeling activities, tourists can also fish feed. The second cottage is reserved for fish feeding activities. I’m not quite sure though on why the fishermen disallow fish feeding at the cottage near the snorkeling area.

We didn’t spend much time at the Pambato reef since the winds started to show signs of getting stronger. We left Pambato Reef and went back to the Honday Bay port where our van from the Maple Tours was waiting.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]This post is part of our trip to Puerto Princessa with AirPhil Express. This trip is a sampler of AirPhil Express’ Puerto Princesa AdvenTour packages which you can avail together with your MNL-PPS-MNL tickets. If you wish to avail the AdvenTour Package that we had, please click here.[/box]

Snake Island

Snake Island is one of the most popular destinations in any Honda Bay island hopping tours. I have been here last year during my first visit in Puerto Princesa and the best I could remember about the place is that my left leg was bitten by an aggressive fish (or maybe it was hit by an aggressive fish’s fin) while I was feeding the smaller fishes with bread.

For this year’s visit to Puerto Princesa, Snake Island was our second destination. Right after having lunch in Pandan Island, our group headed to Snake Island. The island is a long stretch of sand bar with a small population of mangroves and patches of grasses. The entire island is shaped like a snake, hence it’s name. Getting to the Snake Island from Pandan Island didn’t take us long (approximately 10~15 minutes). Also, the waves weren’t as strong as it was on our way to Pandan.

Another part of the Snake Island that we weren’t able to explore the last time I was in Puerto Princesa is the mangrove areas. The mangroves are located on the side opposite to where tourists usually are. It was noticeable that Puerto Princesa is working on reviving the mangroves in the area. A large part of the island are planted with new mangrove trees.

Another thing we got excited about in going to Snake Island is halo-halo. The last time we were there, all of us bought a glass of halo-halo from the sari-sari store in the island. And we did the same thing on our most recent visit. Though the it’s not as good as the one’s you can buy from Razon’s, it’s still worth something specially when you’re under the heat of the sun.

 

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]This post is part of our trip to Puerto Princessa with AirPhil Express. This trip is a sampler of AirPhil Express’ Puerto Princesa AdvenTour packages which you can avail together with your MNL-PPS-MNL tickets. If you wish to avail the AdvenTour Package that we had, please click here.[/box]

Lunch at Pandan Island in Puerto Princesa

It was raining hard the night before we left for Puerto Princesa. The announcement of the typhoon Falcon in Metro Manila scared us that the trip to Palawan might not push through. The streets in Pasong Tamo and Buendia in Makati were already knee-high that night and another set of heavy rains might bring the capital another round of “Ondoy“. After having waited for the flood to subside, I only had enough time to attend a meeting with my client in the US and prepare my stuff afterwards.

The strong winds and rain already stopped when I left the house the following morning but there were still signs that the street leading to the highway was filled with flood waters the night before. It was a good sign though. No rains, no winds…our trip will push through. After completing all our check-in requirements, the rain started to pour again. The next thing we know, several flights going to Mindoro and other provinces were being cancelled. Good thing we were flying with AirPhil Express‘ Airbus 320. The bad weather that day was not much of a problem for all AirBus flights. The last I heard, no Airbus flights were cancelled that day.

I checked the weather maps and satellite images before we left Manila. Puerto Princesa and the rest of Palawan was clear from the big clusters of clouds. True enough, when we stepped out of our plane after arriving in Puerto Princesa International Airport, we were kissed by the sun. The weather was as warm as any average summer day.

Upon getting out of the airport, the members of Maple Palawan Travel & Tours, our travel agency, gave us these necklaces.  VIP boost FTW! The driver brought us to our hotel, Marianne Home Inn, which was just a few minute drive from the airport. I love our hotel. It’s affordable, clean, cozy and homey.

After we settled and fixed our stuff in the our hotel, Anne, the tour guide from Maple, oriented us with our Day 1 activities. For our first day in Puerto Princesa, we will be spending the whole day in Honday Bay. I have been to Honday Bay last year but I haven’t enjoyed it due to time constraints. Imagine touring the Honday Bay for only two or three hours ‘coz we had to be back in our hotel before lunch so we won’t miss our flight back to Manila.

Honday Bay is one of the most visited attractions in the island. It’s famous for diving, snorkeling and island hopping activities. One of the islands that I missed to visit last year is Pandan Island. According to Anne, we will be staying in Pandan Island for our lunch. Picnic!

Roch got excited when she learned we were going to Pandan Island. We thought the island was shaped like pandan or it’s abundant with pandan juice because of its name, similar to it’s neighboring snake-shaped island. However, we were wrong because after all, the island was named after the Pandan Tree which is quite abundant in the island.

We arrived in Pandan Island an hour before lunch, just enough time for us to explore the beach and for Anne to prepare our lunch. Few of the activities that you can do in Pandan Island is fish feed, snorkel, and kayak. Kayaks are available for rent while in the island.

The trees on the right are the Pandan Trees.

It didn’t take Anne too long to prepare our lunch, most of which had been prepared before we left the city. Most of the food served were classic Filipino food. The photo below is chicken adobo, perfect for my #adobofridays.

After lunch, we went for a dip in the clear cool waters of Pandan Island. We also fed the fishes with the bread we bought from the snorkel rental shop in the city. After getting the most of our stay in Pandan Island, Anne called us off to leave for our next destination, the Snake Island.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]This post is part of our trip to Puerto Princessa with AirPhil Express. This trip is a sampler of AirPhil Express’ Puerto Princesa AdvenTour packages which you can avail together with your MNL-PPS-MNL tickets. If you wish to avail the AdvenTour Package that we had, please click here.[/box]

Spending a SMART weekend in Boracay

Who could say no to a free all expense paid weekend in Boracay? No one, right? Last weekend, Smart flew us to Boracay to test their newest innovation, the Smart LTE (Smart Evolution). In the previous weeks, Smart had been sending batches of bloggers to Boracay to give Smart LTE (4G) a try. We were the last batch to be sent for the same reason.

The first thing I noticed upon arriving in Caticlan was the newly renovated and much bigger Caticlan Airport. The airport still uses its old runway but now sports a much bigger terminal area. Unfortunately, the terminal building was not finished yet when we got there and we had to pick up our stuff in a shed outside the main terminal.

Our travel agent booked each of us our own rooms in Real Maris Beach Resort. The hotel was nice and our rooms are super big. It’s twice the size of my room in Eriko’s House.

Since we were there for the testing of Smart LTE, we didn’t get to do much beach-ing. The only activity we got to try was the Paraw sailing during sunset.

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Enjoying the sunset and the smooth breeze.

If the purpose of your trip to Boracay is to relax and get away from the stress of the big city, June might be a perfect month to go there. The summer feel is still there but it’s not as crowded as March, April and May.

 

 

 

 

[1] Photo credit: JustWandering.org

Photo Fridays: First Boracay Trip (July 2006)

[quote]Boracay, Aklan (July 2006) — I started going on out of town trips when I was in high school. But most of these trips are school related and I haven’t really enjoyed them. It was only in college when I starting going out of town for leisure. One of these trips is my trip to Boracay in July 2006. It was my first time in Boracay that time. This photo was taken in Crystal Cove during our island hopping.[/quote]