Friday, March 4, 2016

Puerto Princesa City Tour For The Perfect Nature And Cultural Trip By Beatrice Afra

The Philippines is blessed with beautiful forests, mountains, lakes, islands and other natural wonders. It is no surprise that thousands of tourists from across the globe choose to visit the many provinces of the Philippines. One of the top destinations in the country is Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan.
Contrary to the notion that taking trips out of town would have to cost an arm and a leg, the expenses for a Puerto Princesa City tour is not really expensive. If you take into consideration the amounts we allot for our mobile phone bills and nights you spend bar hopping, you would be surprised to find out that for as little as a few thousand pesos, you will be able to take a three days and two nights vacation in the city. In fact, you may even find a Puerto Princesa package for less than Php 2,000 that includes accommodations, tour, airport transfers, service of a licensed tour guide and more.

With a Puerto Princesa City tour, you would be able to appreciate nature's beauty more with a visit to sites like Mitra's Hill for a view of the entire city and the seascape that surrounds it. You would also get to visit the Crocodile Farm and Butterfly Garden. And if you are looking for more adventures with nature, you shouldn't pass up the chance to visit the Puerto Princesa Underground River. If you like to visit this famous site, you will have to book this as a separate tour.

Our rich history and culture will be better appreciated with a visit to the Immaculate Conception Cathedral which was built during the Spanish era. This is the structure that can attest to how Christianity was spread among the early inhabitants of the Philippines. A trip to Plaza Cuartel will make you understand and appreciate the fallen soldiers who sacrificed their lives during World War 2. You may also have the opportunity to visit to the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm on your Puerto Princesa City tour. While this is not a regular part of the city tour, it can easily be arranged. You will get to meet inmates who may be able to offer you their crafts for sale that you can take home as souvenirs. And while you are there, you may even get a chance to watch the Iwahig Prison and Penal farm dancing inmates perform.
With all these inclusions in your Puerto Princesa City tour itinerary, you can be confident that you will appreciate nature and the culture of the province better.

Beatrice writes blogs for Hopping Buddies Travel & Tours, a registered travel agency in the Philippines that offers affordable packages to Puerto Princesa, El Nido and Coron. Visit their website for more information on their packages, tours and other services.
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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Exploring Bacolod: 5 Tourist Spots You Shouldn't Miss By Jose Martin Benares

Every October, a lively fiesta of street dancing, colorful costumes and wide-smiling masks attracts tourists from all over the world to the city of Bacolod, the capital city of Negros Occidental, Philippines. This event is the famous Masskara Festival, granting Bacolod the nickname "City of Smiles" because of the grand smiles featured by the masks of the festival dancers. If you ever find yourself in Bacolod, whether joining in the revelries of the Masskara season or simply sightseeing during any other month, there are various tourist attractions in the city you cannot afford to miss. Make sure you check off these 5 destinations off your itinerary before ending your Bacolod excursion.

1. Provincial Park and Lagoon
Situated in front of the city's grand Provincial Capitol Building, this popular park is home to many interesting massive sculptures and is also a favorite jogging area of the local residents. The park features a rectangular lagoon in its middle area, with a lot of surrounding benches and open grass to lounge on and spend a sunny day or breezy night in.

2. Fountain of Justice
Located in front of the old Bacolod City Hall, this spot marks the place where the Spanish soldiers and colonizers of the late 19th century formally surrendered to the early Filipino people. It was where the Spanish Governor of Negros at that time, Col. Isidro Castro, signed a formal surrender to the local forces of Gen. Aniceto Lacson, giving the place rich historic value.

3. Pope John Paul II Tower
Sited at the Bacolod Reclamation Area, this 7-storey tower stands as a monument signifying the historic visit of Pope John Paul II to Bacolod on February 20, 1981. The tower is set on the exact spot where the Pope celebrated the Eucharist in front of a gathering of almost a million people on the historic date.

4. San Sebastian Cathedral
Constructed in 1876 through the initiative of the Recollect friar Fr. Mauricio Ferrero, the San Sebastian Cathedral is one of the oldest religious establishments in the province. Its interior is roomy and well-suited to the climate, and its stone exterior is rustic, with vintage architecture, belfries and statues.

5. Dizon-Ramos Museum
This is the ancestral home of the Dizon-Ramos clan, a privileged family that lived in the city during the mid-1950s. The house was converted to a museum in 2007, and currently it houses artworks by famous artists, personal collections of the clan members including an interesting doll collection, pictorial reproductions, and Masskara collections.

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Of History and Art: 3 Major Museums to Visit in Bacolod By Jose Martin Benares

Cultural artifacts, historical artworks, photographs, vital documents and impressive personal collections-all these and more you will discover by visiting the major museums, exhibits and galleries in Bacolod City. If you're an art and history buff, you'll definitely find going to these destinations something to look forward to. And even when you're just a tourist looking for some places to fill your itinerary, you'll surely want to include these spots in your schedule to give you a well-rounded experience not only of what Bacolod is, but what it was in times past.

• Negros Museum
Featuring premier historical and humanities exhibits and galleries, the Negros Museum is a top destination for locals and tourists alike. Visiting it will take you to a tour of Negros Occidental's history, and you will get to see how the province of Negros progressed from its humble beginnings and history of colonial oppression to rising as the pioneer in the sugar industry and becoming the famed "Sugarbowl of the Philippines." This is why the Negros Museum is also known as "The Sugar Museum."
Aside from showcasing historical events related to Negros' rise in the sugar industry, the museum also houses murals done by local artists, and exhibits of the Negrense artists' works are held in the museum's café as well. It is also home to a vast collection of dolls and toys from all over the world, donated by a woman who had collected them in her lifetime. The Negros Museum is located at Gatuslao St., where the old Provincial Government was located.

• Dizon-Ramos Museum
This museum stands as a legacy of the Dizon-Ramos clan, an upper class family that lived in Bacolod in the late 1950s. It used to be the ancestral home of the family of Raymundo L. Dizon and Hermelinda V. Ramos, and the structure was converted into a museum in 2007. Today it houses the personal collections of the clan's children, artworks by significant artists, the Alunan-Puentebella Dolls Collection, the Holy Land Collection, and pictorial reproductions showcasing the lifestyle of Negrenses in the peak of the home's use.

• Museum Negrense de la Salle
This unique attraction is the only school-based museum in the entire Western Visayas region. Located at the campus grounds of the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod, it aims to foster a better understanding of the Filipino people's past and religious practices through a multimedia presentation of artifacts and symbols of the Christian faith. From time to time it also features special exhibits that broaden the Negrense community's and the visiting tourists' appreciation of Filipino culture, art, and history.

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Summer in Bacolod: Splash Away in These Cool Resorts! By Jose Martin Benares

Want to beat the summer heat through some cool swimming and R&R in nice resorts? If yes, here's a list of summer destinations in Bacolod, including the most popular resorts such as the Mambukal Mountain Resort, the Caribbean Waterpark and Resotel, and the Palmas del Mar Bacolod. Choose one for your next escapade, or plan to visit them all for several days each throughout the summer months to maximize your summer fun and enjoyment. Whether you're a local of the city, a visitor from neighboring Philippine provinces, or a vacationing tourist from another country, you'll surely enjoy the amenities, fun activities, and accommodations that these popular summer destinations have to offer.

• Mambukal Mountain Resort
For the ultimate nature getaway, choose the Mambukal Mountain resort. Nestled some 1,200 feet above sea level, it serves as the gateway to the famous Mt. Kanlaon and features swimming pools supplied by water descending from a series of seven waterfalls. First developed in 1927, it was initially designed by a Japanese architect to be a bathhouse and picnic garden, providing a cool haven for the locals and any visiting guests. Today it stands as a premier resort offering numerous amenities and activities, including boating, wall climbing, therapeutic warm dipping in hot springs, bat watching, canopy walks, and the challenging "Slide for Life."

While trekking Mambukal's famous seven waterfalls or just lounging in the resort, you can immerse yourself with the beauty of Mother Nature, as Mambukal is home to a wide variety of butterfly species, ferns, pines, orchids, tropical trees, and over 4,000 fruit bats in the area. With its exceptionally bountiful and blessed natural features, Mambukal is truly a summer destination where you can not only enjoy swimming, but also bask in nature's beauty.

• Caribbean Waterpark and Resotel
Are you up for a themed waterpark summer adventure? If so, the Caribbean Waterpark and Resotel is the place for you. It is a pirate-themed waterpark that features pirate ships wrecked in the middle of shallow pools, water slides, treasure chests, mushroom showers, pirate-themed restaurants, picnic areas, and spacious function areas. Located at the Goldenfield Commercial Complex, it is the perfect place for children, families and large groups alike to get some summer fun right at the heart of the city.

• Palmas del Mar Bacolod
Palmas del Mar is a five-acre seaside resort featuring a variety of swimming amenities for you, including a five-lane lapping pool, a Mediterranean-inspired pool, freeform island swimming, and two kids' pools. Aside from getting your fill of summer swimming, you can also enjoy other pleasurable activities offered by this resort, including boating, fishing, Jacuzzi bathing, desk football, billiards, and table tennis.

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About Bacolod City By Jose Martin Benares

Bacolod City is located in Negros Occidental, a province in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. People living in Bacolod are called Ilonggo or Ilongga, and they are popular for being sweet and caring. In any part of the city, you will notice that even when these people have problems, they will still continue to smile. This is part of the reason why the city of Bacolod is also known as City of Smiles. In relation to this, the Bacolodnons created and annually hold a festival called Masskara. It is like a Mardi Gras festival where street dancers wear masks or paints with big smiles on their faces. The festival also involves a spectacular and very enticing combination of dance and music. This festival is enjoyed by everyone, not only native people but also tourists coming from all over the world just to be part of this revelry.

Chicken inasal is everywhere in Bacolod. It may be sold on the streets or in a well known chicken inasal restaurant. Wherever it is served, there is a secret ingredient in Bacolod's trademark roasted chicken that only the locals know. This native delicacy is exported not only all over the Philippines but also abroad.
Just like a typical downtown area, there are malls, buildings, universities, churches, and the like in Bacolod City. The means of transportation of a regular Bacolodnon is the jeepney. It is similar to the US military jeeps, but it has a more crowded seating arrangement. The jeepney has evolved to be one of the symbols of Philippine culture. Another means of transportation in Bacolod is the tricycle, which is a vehicle with three wheels, as the word itself implies. With the wild imagination of Filipinos, it was created using a regular motorcycle which has been attached with an extension so that more people can occupy it. Doing this has allowed locals not only to have their own ride, but also have a means of income by delivering passengers to their destinations.

With regards to the climate in the area, there are two seasons: wet and dry. Normally, the wet or rainy season starts from May and continues until January. It has been recorded that the period between August and September always involves heavy rainfall and even storms. During these rainy and stormy months, people make sure to pack their bags raincoats and bring along umbrellas. On the other hand, dry season starts from February until April. This is the summer season is the Philippines, and typically Bacolodnons will be inside their homes cooling themselves by facing an electric fan and drinking a glass of cool juice. Others may also choose to go to malls or beaches during this season.

If you want to go to the Philippines, putting Bacolod at the top of your list is definitely a must.
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Hearing Bacolod's Story: Must-Visit Historical Attractions By Jose Martin Benares

You may have already heard of Bacolod in relation to the world-famous festival it hosts, the Masskara Festival. But this City of Smiles has so much more to offer than just this October mardi gras-like festivity. Out of the over 7,000 islands that make up the Philippines, Bacolod has been proclaimed as the cleanest and greenest city in the country, not to mention the most livable as well. It can be reached by plane or by boat, and is just a 50-minute plane ride from the country's capital, Manila. As the capital city of the province of Negros Occidental, Bacolod serves as the gateway to the many tourist attractions, nature marvels, and historical landmarks in the province.

One of the must-visit destinations in Bacolod City is the San Sebastian Cathedral. It is a cultural, historical, architectural, and religious landmark rolled into one, as its rich history, construction and role in the Bacolodnon's way of life is unmatched. Constructed in 1876 through the initiative and leadership of Fr. Mauricio Ferrero, it remains to this day as a well-respected and well-visited infrastructure that's over a century old yet still features a wonderful stone exterior with statues and belfries. In the year 1976, the 100th year anniversary of this religious landmark, its bells were taken down from the belfries and set at the right side of the churchyard, where they still stand today famously referred to as the centennial bells of San Sebastian. Also just beside the Cathedral and its centennial bells you can find the Palacio Episcopal, which is an even older building as it was erected 46 years prior to the construction of the church. Built upon the initiative of Fr. Julian Gonzaga, it was constructed mainly to serve as the residence of the bishop, but in the 1898 revolution, it also served as a refuge for civic leaders and the Spanish military.

Aside from the San Sebastian Cathedral and the Palacio Episcopal, other destinations that should be on your itinerary if ever you're in Bacolod are the Negros Museum, the Don Mariano Ramos Ancestral House, the Dizon-Ramos Museum, and the Museo Negrense de La Salle. These popular tourist attractions offer must-see galleries of paintings, pictorial reproductions, personal collections of early Bacolodnons, sculptures, artifacts, and other knick-knacks that are sure to enrich your knowledge of the locals' way of life and deepen your understanding of Bacolod culture. The city of Bacolod has stories to tell, which you'll be delighted to hear if you take the time to discover them.

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Top Five Must-See Beaches in the Philippines By M. Kent

When thinking of a tropical paradise, many people imagine Bali but the Philippines offer a wonderful alternative. The beautiful nature, the serenity and the clean beaches have all increased the popularity of the archipelago.
If you love the beach, the crystal blue water and the picturesque appeal of the marine flora and fauna, the beaches are just right for you. Here is a list of the five must-see beaches of the Philippines.

1) El Nido Beach, Palawan
The town of El Nido is located 420 kilometres away from Manila and is often labelled as the best beach destination of the archipelago. In 1984, a large portion of the beach was declared a turtle sanctuary and later on, the entire area became a marine reserve.
El Nido is often called the last frontier. It impresses with the virginity of the nature, the peacefulness and the entertainment opportunities. You can try caving, kayaking and even island hopping.

2) Boracay, Aklan
Boracay's popularity as one of the best beach destinations has increased a lot over the past few years. The small island is located south of Manila and White Beach, its most famous tourist spot, has received a number of prestigious awards.
The fine white sand and crystal blue waters are the most prominent characteristics of Boracay beaches. In 2012, Boracay received a best island in the world award by Travel + Leisure magazine. Despite the popularity, Boracay still has some secluded beaches and romantic sites that offer privacy and serenity.

3) Siargao Island
Surfers have certainly heard about Siargao Island, since it is considered the number one surfing spot of the Philippines.
Cloud Nine is incredibly popular among surfers and as such, it is always crowded and noisy. Siargao Island, however, does have some secluded, peaceful beaches where you will get to enjoy nature to the fullest.

4) Mactan Island
The island of Mactan brags some of the finest Philippines beaches. It is located very close to Cebu Island and Mactan attracts numerous tourists because it is a coral island destination. Some of the best diving experiences in the area are available there.
Mactan Island is also the home of Mactan Island Aquarium - the only attraction of this kind in the Visayas. The accommodation options are suitable for every taste and preference and if you really value your privacy, you can choose one of the Mactan private beaches for your vacation.

5) Panglao, Bohol
Panglao Island is a limestone unit that brags numerous caves, one of which supplies the entire island with water. Alona Beach is one of the Panglao places that attract an incredibly large number of tourists.
The Panglao beaches are very similar to the ones on Boracay - fine white sand and crystal clear water. Panglao offers one of the best diving experiences but its popularity has made the place a bit crowded.
To read about it is very different from seeing for yourself and exploring the beauty of the Philippines. Do you like white sand, coral reefs, diving and lush greenery? If your answer is yes, you should certainly consider organising a vacation. The islands of the Philippines are welcoming, peaceful and suitable for everyone. Just choose the one you like the most and start exploring!

Michael Kent is Founder and CEO of Azimo a London based technology company specialising in safe, convenient and fast Philippine online remittances at better rates than the high street banks, from the comfort of your home or office.
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