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Travel+Lifestyle: The Libotero 2011 Year-Ender (Part 3)
2010 saw the birth of Libotero.com which initially featured family trips around Luzon from the previous years. I’ve always had the passion for travel but was limited by my fear of travelling alone. June 2010 marked a breakthrough as I embarked on my first solo trip ever, and to Mindanao at that. From that point up to the end of last year, I was able to visit 5 new provinces in Visayas and Mindanao.
There are various reasons for travelling. As for myself, I’ve always been inspired by these travel shows on television and wanted to personally experience the places away from home, to discover a colorful mix of cultures in different settings, and more.
Travel has shaped me. It made me realize that life can also be about doing things you love, and not just about things you’re supposed to love. This blog is a reflection of how I live the dream and I’d like to grab a few lines from a song, “Believe in the dream, believe in the promise, that you can be all that you wanted to be…”
And so, for the 3rd part of this Year-Ender series, I share to you a round-up of my travels and lifestyle gigs for the 3rd quarter of 2011 (EDIT: Actually September isn’t included in this post. Read why at the end of the page).
Read Part 1 here.
Read Part 2 here.
July 1 – Kawasaki Leisure Bikes’ Roadgasmic Bikers’ Party 2011 – Kawasaki Motors Philippines landed in Cebu City, taking center stage at Luxx, Vudu for the Kawasaki Leisure Bikes’ Roadgasmic Bikers’ Party 2011. Launched during the 80s themed event were the new Kawasaki KSR 110, Ninja 250R, Vulcan 900, Ninja 650 & Ninja ZX-10R leisure bikes. Vrooom!
July 2 – Hoops Dome Launching – Boxing Champ Manny Pacquiao spearheaded the launching of the 4,000 square meter, world-class Hoops Dome in Gun-ob Lapu-Lapu City by serenading the Oponganons through a free concert with the MP band and singer-composer Lito Camo. The celebration was one of the highlights of the 50th charter anniversary of the city.
July 8 – Oyster Bay Treat – Select Cebu bloggers were invited by Oyster Bay Restaurant to a dinner featuring their delectable seafood offerings. Oyster Bay offers a wide selection of live and fresh fish, crabs and lobsters cooked into delightful dishes. Or you may also choose from Filipino favorites like lechon kawali, bicol express, crispy pata and more! (The Baked Diwal is a must-try!!)
July 9 – The Country Style Fashion Show at Ayala Center Cebu – Shoppers were made to relive and experience the fashion of the American West with “The Country Style Fashion Show”, one of the activities prepared by Ayala Center Cebu as part of the Fil-Am Friendship Celebration. The audience was blown away as models strutted in style wearing items from some of the well-loved stores/boutiques that participated.
July 11 – Sabores de España at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu – Select Cebu bloggers were made to experience another installment of Marco Polo Plaza’s much-loved culinary journey – Sabores de Espana! The Spanish food festival showcased once more the very best that Spain has to offer. Last July 8, Spanish dances, live guitar music and giant ham & paellas jumpstarted the festival at the lobby of Marco Polo Plaza with passionate displays and flamboyant colors. The occasion was be graced by His Excellency Jorge Domecq, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain to the Philippines.
July 14 – Ambassador’s Cafe Experience – Just a few steps away from Oyster Bay Restaurant at Bridges Town Square Mandaue is Ambassador’s Cafe. Select Cebu bloggers were invited to taste their set continental meals and breads. Interestingly, incorporated with the dining area is a “pasalubong” center. Try their pumpkin soup!
July 16 – Gensan once more! – Exactly a year after I first stepped on the SOCCSKSARGEN region, I am back, to experience the T’Nalak Festival 2011 and explore even more areas in the region.
July 17 – Hello Sultan Kudarat! – I believe one of my greatest achievements as a traveler this year is having been able to visit Sultan Kudarat. Only a few people from Luzon and Visayas dare to visit this place because of fear, caused by bad national media publicity. When I texted my parents that I was en route to Sultan Kudarat, the replies were expected. “Is it safe there?”, “Are you kidding? You might be kidnapped!”. “We can’t afford for ransom money” and the like. I was actually fearful myself but the only way to know what is actually going on in there is to go there, so I did. And here is a photo of their majestic Provincial Capitol, probably the best in the country, in terms of form and function. Sadly though, I wasn’t able to explore much of Isulan and Tacurong as it rained just moments after I captured some shots of the Capitol building, but I definitely won’t think twice about visiting the place again in the near future. After my brief visit, I returned to Koronadal for lunch at Fitmart Mall of Marbel (now Gaisano Grand Koronadal) and then attended Kuya Avel and Sir Ariel Lalisan’s Blogging 101 talk. As the talk ended, we explored the streets of Koronadal and visited the Agro-Industrial Fair and the Bahay-Kubo Competition, which are among the highlights of the T’Nalak Festival. While exploring, we bumped into Lake Sebu Mayor Antonio Fungan and had a photo-opp! Feeling a li’l bit tired and hungry, we walked to Popoy’s Batchoy and Eatery, arguably Koronadal’s best! It was getting dark already and we had to catch the last bus bound for General Santos but before that, we grabbed some sweet corn at Rizal Park! Travel time from Koronadal to General Santos takes about an hour. As we arrived at Kuya Avel’s home, we freshened up and rested for a few minutes before having dinner at Tiongson Arcade in Lagao. I swear, the Pinaputok na Tilapia is a must-try! (How many times did I use the word must-try in this post?!) I thought the night was over as we burped after dinner but then, we headed to SunCity Complex for videoke and some drinks at Music City Family KTV, which has 12 private rooms equipped with wide flat screens, two microphones and an updated songlist! High-tech!
July 18 – T’Nalak Festival 2011 – After the Kadayawan Festival last year, this is only the second festival in Mindanao that I’ve experienced and having been to several festivals all over the country, I can say that the T’Nalak Festival has its own charm. Mostly participated by teenage school-children, the festival portrays the very colorful culture in the province. Aside from drum beats, also prominent in the festival is the use of gongs and “kulintang”. The festival celebrates the T’boli’s dream cloth, the T’Nalak.
July 19 – The other side of Sarangani – Last year, I got to explore the eastern towns of Alabel, Malapatan and Glan in Saragani. This time, I explored the western side, thanks to Kuya Avel who made it easier for me by coordinating with Sir Arlex, the tourism officer of the municipality of Maitum. Passing by Maasim and Kiamba, travel time from General Santos takes at least two hours on air-conditioned vans (GT Express). Ranked as a second class municipality, my tour started at the municipal museum and when I reached the second floor, I was very amazed by some unique-looking jars bearing human face and form. Nearly 2000 years old, the anthropomorphic jars recovered from some caves in Maitum serve a very important role in retracing and recovering our country’s once rich cultural heritage. From the municipal hall, Sir Arlex brought me to the Pawikan Nesting Sanctuary in Old Poblacion where I got to meet Danilo Dequiña, a very determined simple man who saved thousands of hatchlings! He helped the local government establish the sanctuary. Along the way, I got to see the black stones in Saub River from where the town got its name. We then proceeded to witness the making of Maitum’s most popular product, which is specially marinated half-dried flying fish (bangsi). After the short eco-cultural tour, Sir Arlex brought me to one of the local households for some refreshments. Interacting with the locals really gave me a heartwarming feeling as I got to discover how they go about on their day-to-day living which was very simple considering that internet access in the area is limited and very expensive! (average per hour rate at internet shops in the area is P50). Sir Arlex offered the town’s shining star at the moment, the tourist-drawing White Water Tubing in Pangi River but I declined since I was alone and wasn’t able to bring extra clothes. I will definitely be back for that though. Finally, I rested for a while at the tourism office before catching the last ride back to General Santos.
July 22 – Sitti at Ayala Center Cebu – The Bossa Nova Queen, Sitti, promoted her newest self-titled album, “Sitti” with 8 new tracks and 3 classical remakes in bossa nova flavor at the activity center of Ayala Center Cebu. Photo-ops and CD-signing were done after the show.
July 27 – Make Your Own Havaianas 2011 at SM City Cebu – Now on its sixth year, Make Your Own Havaianas 2011 was held at the Northwing with the theme, “Travel in personalized style”. The whole MYOH area was set to fit the theme, with “boarding passes” given to each guest during the media/VIP night, and waiting lounges featuring Cebuano furniture. Make Your Own Havaianas is an annual event where you take full control on how your pair of Havaianas flip-flops would look like. You can choose from a palette of soles and straps, and set of accessories.
July 28 – Airphil Express launches direct Cebu-Hong Kong flight – I was very privileged to have been handpicked as one of the four Visayas-based bloggers to be part of the inaugural Cebu-Hong Kong flight of Airphil Express. I really did not know what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised as we got in the international terminal as we were greeted with smiling APX crew putting on us an orange orchid necklace. As we moved on to the boarding gate, there was a dragon dance, which made the occasion very festive plus free breakfast buffet for all the maiden flight passengers! After all the speeches and formalities by Airphil Express’ executives, they pulled a piñata shaped as a Chinese lantern which contained a lot of prizes including a round trip ticket for two to the newly-launched destination! Wow! The flight took us almost three hours but we landed in Hong Kong thirty minutes ahead of schedule, a very good start indeed! As soon as we arrived, we proceeded to a room in the Airport World Trade Center for a press briefing with members of the Hong Kong media and also to celebrate the partnership between Airphil Express and its logistics groups and concessionaires in Hong Kong. What’s good about this new offering by Airphil Express is its day schedule so you’d be able to see and appreciate the aerial views of Cebu all the way to Hong Kong. Once more, I’d like to thank Airphil Express for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join an inaugural flight! (P.S. I’m hoping and praying Airphil Express resumes its day flights from Cebu to Singapore!)
August 4 – Hello Davao! Hello Abreeza! – One of the highlights of my 3rd time in Davao is a visit to their newest lifestyle destination, Abreeza! Abreeza Mall is the first Ayala Mall in Mindanao, with over 300 stores which include a wide array of retail choices with popular local and foreign fashion concepts, brands opening their first stores in Davao, carefully handpicked dining options and homegrown favorites. The mall showcases relaxed and contemporary architecture blended with signature open spaces and verdant landscaping. Inspired by the rich culture of Davao, the mall makes creative use of color, accenting classic neutral tones. It provides the Davao community with a truly unique and rewarding experience in shopping, dining and entertainment. Don’t laugh at me when I say that the mall is one of the new tourist destinations in the city..
August 6 – Eyeball with Davao Bloggers and SkyscraperCity Davao – Davao is really close to my heart, it’s like another home where I feel light and very secure. I did not prepare any itinerary for this trip as I only wanted to relax and have a few days off from the bustle of my hometown but I took the chance to meet the people who made me appreciate Davao more in their efforts to dispel the Mindanao stereotype, the Davao Bloggers and SkyscraperCity Davao. That day, the Davao Bloggers gathered at Trellis ‘N Vines in Torres for their monthly gathering themed as Geek Up or “skills enhancement” with English Grammar 101 as their topic. Thank you Ate Ria for inviting me to drop by as I learned a few tips to help my writing as well!
Shortly after, I went to Abreeza to meet Jonas, one of SSC-Davao’s active members. For those who don’t know what SSC is, it is actually the largest online forum for those who are enthusiastic about urbanity, progress and development, so if you’re sick and tired of the negative news you see on TV and read on the papers, then log-on to www.skyscrapercity.com and engage in the intellectual discussions! … We then headed to Kuya Ambie’s homey backyard, Landong’s Grill, which hosts regular SSC-Davao meets. After an awesome barbecue dinner, we then proceeded to talk about the latest buzz in Davao at Yellow Hauz and ended the night at the ever-amusing Kasagingan Kapehan!
August 8 – Davao del Norte – Once again, uncooperative weather is a bummer. I was supposed to visit Banana Beach in Tagum but it rained so hard while I was along the way so I had to cancel my plans and just have lunch at the Gaisano Grand Mall in the city. As I returned to Davao City late in the afternoon, I explored Magsaysay Park, a popular area for the locals, to breath some fresh sea breeze. I really appreciate how the Davao City government maintains public parks since these are the only places where majority of our brothers and sisters will be able to unwind without the need to spend a dime.
August 11 – i.We.U. – Marco Polo Plaza Cebu hosted the Networking Lunch for Day 2 of the MICEConvention. Gracing the event was DOT Secretary at that time, Alberto Lim, Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia and Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos. The best of Marco Polo’s food offerings and coffee were served!
August 22 – Welcome to Paradise! – Only the insanely expensive airfare to/from this place prevented me from visiting this island sooner but thanks to Airphil Express’ P88 promo, I was finally able to conquer the island paradise. Please don’t get mad at me when I declare that Boracay is the best beach because for me, it is. I’m not just talking about the beach itself but also the availability of facilities, establishments and other things to do while in the island. Three days and two nights in the island isn’t enough and so I’ll be back next year!
Where’s September? This post, at two thousand words and counting is already very long and I’m sure a lot of you won’t reach this point, lol, so I’m creating another post dedicated for the festive -ber months! Cheers!
(…to be continued)