Sneak Peek to Philippine Vistas

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Biyahero [ ]Philippine Travel Portal

by Benjamin Locsin Layug

Barely two months after my last visit to Camarines Norte, covering the quadricentennial of three town parishes, I was again invited, this time by professional surfer Mr. Joey Cuerdo of Power Up Gym and MOJO Slippers and Sandals, to cover the 4th Bagasbas Summer Surf Festival in Daet, held in line with the province-wide Bantayog Festival (the provincial foundation day).  This wasn't the first time I was to cover this event, having done so in 2009.  This time, I was joined by fellow Camarines Norte companion (but first timer to this event) and blogger Mark Vincent Nunez and we were both picked up by a van at Starbucks in Magallanes, hitching with co-event organizer and MOJOS Vice-President for Operations Ms.Thea Yusay and other Mojo staff also on their way to Daet.  We arrived at the town by 2 AM and we both checked in at Canimog Hotel, the 3-day home of most media men out to cover the festival.

Business Mirror
September 22, 2011
by Benjamin Locsin Layug

Part of my itinerary during my first week of February visit to Camarines Norte was to camp overnight at the famed Calaguas Islands, a group of 17 islands northeast of Daet under the jurisdiction of the town of Vinzons.  This was not to be as three days of continuous rain prevented us from doing so.  Two months later, I was again invited back in the province during the peak of summer, covering the 4th Bagasbas Summer Festival in Daet (held in line with the province-wide Bantayog Festival, the provincial foundation day) with travel blogger and good friend Mark Vincent Nunez.  This time the weather was perfect, with bright sunshine, clear skies and calm seas, and Mark and I were again invited by Provincial Tourism Officer Atty. Debbee Francisco to visit these islands  famed for their Boracay-like (minus the commercial development) white sand beaches.

Business Mirror
June 16, 2011
by Benjamin Locsin Layug

Half of our North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB)/Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC)-sponsored Lakbay Norte 2 Media Tour was to cover Cagayan province (the other half being Ilocos Norte), and one of this province’s major draws is the second-class fishing municipality of Sta. Ana, located 158 kms. from Tuguegarao City (a 2-hr. drive) and 651 kms. (an 11-hr. drive) from Manila. The town is home to the 125-hectare Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport, the fastest-growing industrial, logistics and ecotourism hub in the country. The Cagayan Export Zone Authority (CEZA) manages the free port and attracts new locators into the economic zone.  It was already late in the evening when we arrived at the 7-hectare Sun City Holiday and Leisure Resort. Sta. Ana Mayor Darwin A. Tobias and a delicious supper awaited us at the resort’s fine-dining Chinese restaurant. Owned by Hong Kong-based Sun City International, the resort used to cater to just mainland Chinese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong high rollers.

Business Mirror
June 2, 2011
by Benjamin Locsin Layug

A major destination during our 3-day (April 4-6, 2011) Pangasinan Media Tour (with events organizer Bernard Supetran, travel writers Kara Santos and Vince Lopez, travel blogger Mark Vincent Nuñez and my travel photographer daughter Cheska) was the premier tourism town of Bolinao whose  69,568 people speak the unique Bolinawen dialect.  This wasn’t my first visit to this paradise place, having gone there during a 2005 Holy Week break with my son Jandy and two friends at Patar Beach.  We arrived in town in the midst of a high school graduation in front of the town hall and first visited its venerable Church of St. James the Great. This solid, stone church, built by the Augustinian Recollects in 1609, used to double as a fortress against attacks by pirates, the English, Japanese and Americans.  Today, this church (as well as 25 other churches) is listed by the National Museum as a National Cultural Treasure.

Business Mirror
May 19, 2011
by Benjamin Locsin Layug

Marriott Hotel in ManilaWhenever I would head for Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal (Naia) 3, Manila’s newest airport, I couldn’t help but notice the massive hotel edifice being built right across it, wondering what this new kid on the block was all about. Well, I ceased to wonder when I accepted a media invitation from Ms. Michelle “Mitch” Garcia and Mr. Indraneel Benadikar, marketing communications manager and director of sales and marketing, respectively, of Marriott Hotel Manila. Located within the 25-hectare, mixed-use Newport City (which includes the world-class tourism complex of Resorts World Manila) project of property giant Megaworld Corp., this 8-storey hotel is the first in Metro Manila to carry the Marriott name and the second in the Philippines after the 301-room Cebu City Marriott Hotel.

Business Mirror
January 21, 2010
by Benjamin Locsin Layug
MY son Jandy and I had just had our fill of fiestas, having just attended the star-studded and colorful Sangyaw Festival of Tacloban City. For a change of pace, we were yearning for some adventurous “rest and recreation,” this time opting to visit the progressive town of Guiuan in Eastern Samar, our first in the province. To get there, we left the city after lunch, on board an air-conditioned Van-Van van at downtown. The trip took all of three hours (the opening, in the late 1990s, of the South Samar Coastal Road cut land travel time to Guiuan by about two hours), crossing the beautiful, S-shaped San Juanico Bridge (the country’s longest) into Samar, traveling along a coastal highway which runs past mountains, steep cliffs, distant rock islands and boat-filled bays, then making a right at a T-junction (the left goes to Borongan) to an occasionally potholed asphalt road all the way to Guiuan.
Business Mirror
August 20, 2009
by Benjamin Locsin Layug

June, better known as the wedding month, is not usually a month for fiestas. Tacloban City in Leyte begs to be different, as it is the month when two simultaneous festivals, the Pinta-dos Kasadyaan and the Sangyaw Festivals, are held, a reflection of the city’s determination, resilience and optimism, especially during these most trying of times. Sangyaw is derived from the Waray word meaning “to herald the news.” This year’s parade promised to be extra special, as it was the 120th celebration of the Fiesta of Sto. Niño de Tacloban (the city’s patron saint), plus Tacloban also just became the first city in the Eastern Visayas region to be classified as a highly urbanized city.

Business Mirror
July 23, 2009
by Benjamin Locsin Layug

My first trip to Banaue, Ifugao, and its showpiece, the stupendous Batad Rice Terraces (the Eighth Wonder of the World), was way back in April 1998 with my then 11-year-old son Jandy. Back then, there were no cell-phone signals (making my cell phone useless) and the camera I brought with me was an instamatic Canon Sureshot Joy that used your standard-issue film. Since then, I have been pining for a return. Well, wishes do come true, and I have returned.

Business Mirror
June 18, 2009

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  • One Beijing Summer Monday, 27 June 2011 19:54

    Summer was about to end (and classes soon to begin), and I didn’t want to end it without satisfying my yearning to visit some place new and far away. So I chose Beijing. My friends Alex Ong, Gil Bilog and Azon Varias all agreed with me. I brought along my son Jandy; Alex was accompanied by his wife Chona and mother Carmen; Azon with son Gibson but Gil was all by his lonesome. Our tour package included, aside from plane fare and hotel accommodation, all tours and meals. Manila to Beijing took all of four hours and, upon arrival at Beijing International Airport, we were welcomed by our Chinese tour guide, the diminutive but affable Brittany Jiang.

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