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Dakak adds posh suites, facilities in exclusive zone

Huge high-ceilinged rooms that open out to a lanai and wide vista of sea and sky from their perch atop a cliff, the luxury suites of Dakak Park and Beach…

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Huge high-ceilinged rooms that open out to a lanai and wide vista of sea and sky from their perch atop a cliff, the luxury suites of Dakak Park and Beach Resort deliver on their promise of opulent accommodations.

Dakak luxury suites

The entrance to the luxury suites of Villa Angelina, a super exclusive zone on the clifftop of Dakak Park and Beach Resort.

The resort adds another exclusive zone to Villa Angelina, this time on the clifftop, for guests who desire a getaway that’s far from the crush of holiday goers but without relinquishing ultimate luxuries.

A typical Villa Angelina cliffside casita is enormous and leaves more than enough breathing space even with the king-size bed in the middle plus the day bed and plush recliners by one side and mini work area on the other.

Dakak sunset

View from the almost finished sunset bar at Dakak’s exclusive clifftop zone.

Cliffside casitas

One whole wall facing the sea is made of glass to allow guests an uninterrupted view of the panorama of deep blue and lush greens that make up the Dapitan City coast.

Villa Angelina private veranda

Each cliffside casita comes with its own private veranda that overlooks Dapitan City’s coastline.

Each luxury suite, also called a cliffside casita, has its own private veranda with a jacuzzi for those times when you just want to take it easy and relax in your very own hot tub while you take in the view.

The well-appointed room is complemented by a spacious and lavish en suite.

Villa Angelina infinity pool

The cliffside zone of Dakak Park and Beach Resort has its own infinity pool that is exclusive for Villa Angelina overnight guests. Soon, the area will have its restaurant and bar that makes the most of the spectacular views from the top.

Dakak infinity pool

Only guests staying at the Villa Angelina luxury suites have access to the infinity pool built atop the cliff.

Dakak’s luxury zone is serviced regularly by resort vans.

A cliffside casita is just a brief ride away from the resort’s stretch of fine white sand and warm sea. It is also only a short walk down to the beach.

Cliffside casita jacuzzi

Each Villa Angelina cliffside casita also comes with its own jacuzzi.

Dakak accommodations

Outside of Villa Angelina, Dakak Park and Beach Resort has affordable deluxe, family, and big group rooms. It also has overnight packages that come bundled with city tours and complimentary entrance to Gloria de Dapitan’s Fantasyland.

Cliffside casita interior

A cliffside casita has more than enough space for a king-size bed, enormous closet, couch and recliners, and mini work area.

Check out the Dakak website for the updated room rates and offers.

Dakak Park and Beach Resort is also currently building a world-class golf course of Greg Norman design that is scheduled to partly open in July.

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Taiwan Guide: Places, food, experiences in the ‘beautiful island’

Taiwan wasn’t high in my list of must-visit places, but two trips later and it had become one of my favorite destinations. The capital Taipei was bustling without being chaotic,…

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Taiwan wasn’t high in my list of must-visit places, but two trips later and it had become one of my favorite destinations.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

CHIANG KAI-SHEK MEMORIAL HALL. This octagon-shaped building was built as a memorial to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.

The capital Taipei was bustling without being chaotic, food was plentiful and inexpensive, it was so clean we had no qualms eating along alleyways and in markets, and efficient public transport allowed us to move around with ease.

When it comes to tourist attractions, Taiwan has mountains and woodland trails, parks and gardens, grand structures and temples, old-world places and modern cities.

The sun sets in a sea of clouds at the Alishan National Scenic Area.

The island nation is so close to the Philippines that tribes in Taiwan’s Lanyu Island share similarities in language and culture with the Ivatans of Batanes.

Taiwan attractions

Whether it’s a lengthy stay or brief getaway, any trip to a new place should always include time for the busy capital and Taipei hosts more than enough interesting places of cultural, historical, and natural value to keep one occupied.

If your trip is only for two nights and limited to Taiwan’s metropolis, don’t despair. You can still tally up quite a list of spectacular experiences without having to go far.

Taipei, after all, is home to:

Taipei 101

This engineering feat has a high-speed elevator that takes guests from the fifth floor to the Observatory in the 89th floor at a record breaking time of 37 seconds.

Taipei 101

View of the Taipei skyline from nearby Elephant Mountain.

The change in air pressure for such a swift ascent can be a little bit unpleasant but they distract you by dimming the elevator lights and showing a replica of the night sky complete with constellations and shooting stars on the ceiling. Fortunately, the ride takes less than a minute.

One floor down from the indoor observatory is the engineering marvel that is the wind damper so don’t miss it. The outdoor observatory in the 91st floor may be off limits depending on weather conditions.

National Palace Museum

The local guide in my first trip to Taipei, Jane Fan, shared an interesting fact about the National Palace Museum. Majority of the museum’s treasures are Chinese cultural relics and artifacts passed down by the imperial courts. These were shipped to Taiwan due to fears they would be destroyed following the rise of communism in China.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Chiang Kai-shek, the first president of Taiwan, was largely credited with its economic development.

Archway entrance

Archway entrance of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

In honor of his contributions, the Taiwanese built the two-level Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall within a large complex that also features Liberty Square with its manicured gardens as well as the National Concert Hall and National Theatre.

Presidential Office Building

Taiwan’s current president holds office in a sprawling Baroque structure designed by a Japanese architect and built during the Japanese occupation.

Visitors are allowed in some parts of the Presidential Office Building at specific times. Visits are allowed from 9 a.m.-12 noon on weekdays and up to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Check the facility’s website for the visitor schedules and guidelines.

Longshan Temple of Manka

The Longshan or Lungshan Temple of Manka is a Buddhist temple founded in Taipei in 1738.

Taiwan is generally tolerant when it comes to worship practices, and there are minority religions like Christianity, Mormonism, Islam, Hinduism as well as native sects aside from the three main ones of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

The Longshan Temple of Manka in Taipei dates back to 1738 and is one of the oldest and largest Buddhist temples in Taiwan. This religious structure was built in honor of Guanyin or Goddess of Mercy and is used by Tao and Buddhism followers.

Elephant Mountain

While the Taipei 101 Observatory allows visitors a bird’s eye view of the metropolitan, Elephant Mountain gives them a panorama of the skyline with Taiwan’s tallest building as main feature.

Elephant Mountain

These steps lead all the way to the top of the Elephant Mountain in Xiangshan District.

The best time to climb up through is late in the afternoon leading up to nighttime. The trail is made of stone steps and really goes all the way up to the top of Elephant Mountain. Some measure of fitness is required in the climb. Wear good footwear and bear in mind that the top of the mountain is several degrees colder than the downtown area.

Ximending District

For shopping in Taipei, no place beats the neighborhood of Ximending when it comes to quality and value for money. There might be cheaper clothes, shirts, bags, souvenirs and other goods sold in the night markets but the Ximending retail shops carry the quality local and global brands.

Din Tai Fung

The capital Taipei hosts the first Din Tai Fung, the original xiao long bao house that spawned a chain of restaurants.

There is a long line of locals and tourists eager to dine at Din Tai Fung so make sure you set aside 40 minutes to an hour for the wait to get a table.

Shilin Night Market

Shilin Night Market

If there’s one thing that the Shilin Night Market is known for, it’s authentic and scrumptious Taiwan dishes.

One of the biggest night markets in Taiwan, the Shilin Night Market combines cheap, delicious eats with inexpensive retail goods like shirts, bags, shoes, and souvenirs like ref magnets or key chains. A whole floor (basement area) is devoted to food and features many of Taiwan’s must-try treats.

Other places

If your schedule allows it still, a few more nearby attractions are absolutely worth your time.

Shifen

A walk along the train tracks of Shifen Old Street is like a trip down a bygone world. Shifen evokes memories of olden times with its nostalgic ambiance and people going about their everyday chores along the railway of the Pingxi line.

Tourists fly lanterns in Shifen Old Street, a community by the railroad tracks in Pingxi District of New Taipei City.

These houses sell souvenirs, other knick knacks, and the sky lanterns that tourists release into the sky with their hopes and wishes.

Jiufen

Whenever I think of the former gold mining town of Jiufen in the mountain area of Ruifang District in New Taipei City, I think of food. It’s hard not too since this once prosperous and booming town nicknamed “Little Hongkong” during its heyday is packed full to the edge of narrow lanes and alleyways with restaurants, teahouses, and cafes. During the two times that I’ve been, I never missed having some of the ice cream and peanut roll served to perfection in Jiufen.

Peanut ice cream roll

Peanut ice cream roll is popular fare in Taiwan and they make it exceptionally well in Jiufen.

Yangmingshan

Yangmingshan National Park is a nature spot that’s very accessible from downtown Taipei. It covers a hundred square meters of gardens, woodland, wildlife, hiking trails, and hot springs.

Formosa

While a brief visit is already fulfilling, a longer trip is even better because it gives you more time to check out this place that the Portuguese once called Formosa or “beautiful island.”

Alishan National Scenic Area

Alishan walking trails

The Alishan National Scenic Area has scenic trails that lead to ancient trees, temples, ponds, and spectacular views.

One side trip we highly recommend is to the Alishan National Scenic Area. The most popular attractions in this mountain preserve is the sunrise and sunset. Alishan sunrise and sunset viewing, however, requires staying overnight. Getting to Alishan from Taipei requires spending at least half of your day on the road.

Staying two or more nights is even better as you get to fully enjoy all that Alishan has to offer, which include hectares of woodland, uphill and downhill hiking trails, ponds, waterfalls and temples.

Taroko National Park

Another attraction that’s worth a visit is Taroko National Park. It is so big, it traverses three areas in Taiwan: Taichung Municipality and the counties of Nantou and Hualien.

Taroko features spectacular views: ravines and rivers, foot bridges, tribal settlements, temples, hiking trails through rocky and forested landscapes.

More photos of Taiwan destinations:

strawberry glaze

Strawberry and cherry tomatoes glazed with syrup and served on sticks  are popular treats at Shilin Night Market.

Ximending shopping

The Ximending District is one of the top shopping areas in Taipei.

Jiufen alley

An alley in Jiufen brims on both sides with food and souvenir shops.

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Dapitan celebrates Kinabayo Festival

Street dancing, a music festival, and a motocross with live band are just among the activities lined up by the Dapitan City Government for the Kinabayo Festival 2017. Held annually…

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Street dancing, a music festival, and a motocross with live band are just among the activities lined up by the Dapitan City Government for the Kinabayo Festival 2017.

Held annually in honor of St. James the Greater, the city’s patron saint, the Kinabayo Festival falls on July 25 but the City Government usually holds several events in the run-up to the main day.

Gloria de Dapitan

Gloria de Dapitan’s Fantasyland is a popular attraction in Dapitan City.

St. James the Greater is also the patron saint of all Spain, and Kinabayo reenacts the Spanish-Moorish wars, in particular the Battle of Covadonga. This was where Spanish forces took their last stand against the Saracens and were victorious due to the intervention of St. James.

For this year, festivities start from July 16 and include a duathlon, golf and bowling tournaments, fun run, hip hop competition, and beauty pageant.

Dapitan City Kinabayo Festival 2017

Here’s the full Kinabayo Festival 2017 schedule:

July 11-15

Invitational Bowling Championship

July 16

4:00 a.m. – Diana/Recorida
5:00 a.m. – Duathlon Invitational Race
3:00 p.m. – Parada sa Patron
5:00 p.m. – Jornada
5:30 p.m. – Novena
6:00 p.m. – Novena mass
7:30 p.m. – DCGEMPC Night (Cultural and Sports Complex)

July 17

4:00 a.m. – Diana/Recorida
5:00 p.m. – Jornada
5:30 p.m. – Novena
6:00 p.m. – Novena mass
7:30 p.m. – Hip Hop competition

July 18

4:00 a.m. – Diana/Recorida
5:00 p.m. – Jornada
5:30 p.m. – Novena
6:00 p.m. – Novena mass
7:30 p.m. – JRMSU Night (Cultural and Sports Center)

July 19

4:00 a.m. – Diana/Recorida
5:00 p.m. – Jornada
5:30 p.m. – Novena
6:00 p.m. – Novena mass
7:30 p.m. – Pre-pageant (Barrio Uno Center Stage, Gloria de Dapitan)

July 20

4:00 a.m. – Diana/Recorida
5:00 a.m. – Zumba
1:00 p.m. – BMX Street Competition (City Hall Drive)
5:00 p.m. – Jornada
5:30 p.m. – Novena
6:00 p.m. – Novena mass
7:30 p.m. – DepEd Night (Cultural and Sports Center)

July 21

4:00 a.m. – Diana/Recorida
5:00 p.m. – Jornada
5:30 p.m. – Novena
6:00 p.m. – Novena mass
7:30 p.m. – Indak Pinoy (Cultural and Sports Complex)
– DJRMDH (City Plaza)
– 5th Night Motocross with Live Band (DAMPA)

July 22

4:00 a.m. – Diana/Recorida
6:00 a.m. – Mountain Bike Race Duathlon
8:00 a.m. – Golf Invitational Tournament (Dakak Golf Club, Inc.)
9:00 a.m. – Songwriting Competition
9:00 a.m. – 1st Mayor Rosalina G. Jalosjos Football Tournament (JRMSU Main Campus Sports Arena)
5:00 p.m. – Jornada
5:30 p.m. – Novena
6:00 p.m. – Novena mass
7:30 p.m. – RMIDCI Nights (Cultural and Sports Center)

July 23

4:00 a.m. – Diana/Recorida
5:00 a.m. – TAKBO para kay TIAGO
8:00 a.m. – Golf Invitational Tournament (Dakak Golf Club, Inc.)
9:00 a.m. – Continuation of 1st Mayor Rosalina G. Jalosjos Football Tournament (JRMSU Main Campus Sports Arena)
10:00 a.m. – Open Dart Tournament (Gloria de Dapitan)
5:00 p.m. – Jornada
5:30 p.m. – Novena
6:00 p.m. – Novena mass
7:30 p.m. – Miss Dapitan 2017 (Cultural and Sports Center)

July 24

4:00 a.m. – Diana/Recorida
5:30 a.m. – Mass
8:00 a.m. – Mass

12:00 noon – Patunob
– Sinug
– Loa
1:00 p.m. – Mass baptism, confirmation, wedding
2 p.m. – Indigay sa Patik (City Plaza)
5:00 p.m. – Jornada
5:30 p.m. – Novena
6:00 p.m. – Novena mass
7:00 p.m. – Candlelight Rosary Procession

July 25

4:00 a.m. – Mass
5:30 a.m. – Mass
7:00 a.m. – Mass
8:30 a.m. – Mass
10 a.m. – Pontifical mass
12:00 noon – Mass
2:00 p.m. – Mass
3:00 p.m. – Street dancing competition (JRMSU Main Campus Sports Arena)
– Horses on Parade
– Horse racing contest (Sta. Cruz beach)
4:00 p.m. – Mass
5:30 p.m. – Mass
6:00 p.m. – Lights and Sounds Parada
7:30 p.m. – Car show (Barrio Uno, Gloria de Dapitan)
9:00 p.m. – Music Festival (City Plaza)
– FIREWORKS Display

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Bohol sanctuary protects Philippine tarsiers

A forested area in Corella has significantly increased the number of the endangered Philippine tarsiers in Bohol. Tarsiers flourish when they have a big area to live in as they…

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A forested area in Corella has significantly increased the number of the endangered Philippine tarsiers in Bohol.

Tarsiers flourish when they have a big area to live in as they are loners and extremely territorial animals and the Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary has effectively enlarged the size of their habitat, said field manager Carlito Pizzaras.

The Philippine tarsiers are under the genus Carlito, one of only three groupings of primates under the Tarsiidae family, in recognition of the Boholano’s efforts to conserve them.

Guided tours are allowed in some parts of the sanctuary.

Two other genera are the Tarsius, found on Sulawesi and surrounding islands, and Cephalopachus, existing in the southern parts of Sumatra and the island of Borneo, explained Nong Lito, as Pizzaras is fondly called by family and friends.

Philippine tarsiers

There are currently around a hundred tarsiers living in the 8.4-hectare Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary in Bohol, which is being managed by the Philippine Tarsier Foundation.

However, only a hectare is open to guests who want to look at the Philippine tarsiers in their natural habitat. Entrance to the tarsier viewing area, where guests are accompanied by a guide at all times, is only P50 per person.

One of the Philippine tarsiers living in a wildlife sanctuary in Corella, Bohol.

Although Philippine tarsiers each need a hectare to live in, Pizzaras said they were able to have five live together peaceably within this size of land by ensuring there is enough food for all.

Tarsiers eat grasshoppers, crickets, locusts, butterflies, moths, beetles, stick insects, ants, bees, wasps, and even dragonflies. They are nocturnal animals and prowl at night, chasing and fighting off other tarsiers they’d come across on land they consider their territory, Pizzaras cited.

Very early in the morning, local guides would tour the viewing area and find out where the tarsiers have camped out for the day. The guests are then brought directly to the spots where the tarsiers are when they visit.

Wildlife sanctuary

We were only able to look at two of the primates during our guided tour. Pizzaras said they have identified at least five pregnant tarsiers, one or two of which are in the viewing area, and don’t want them disturbed.

Philippine tarsiers are excitable and have been known to kill themselves by holding their breath when under stress. Pizzaras said this has been known to happen when people get too close to the animals or there’s a lot of noise.

This is why a few of the rules of the viewing area include keeping quiet when looking at the sleeping tarsiers and not using flash when taking pictures.

Pizzaras said any other way of breeding and conserving Philippine tarsiers doesn’t work, in a dig at the one in Loboc where the animals are kept together in a cramped space.

According to him, the Provincial Government is setting aside 167 hectares of timberland to increase the size of the sanctuary. The area is contiguous to the existing Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary and will provide a big boost to current conservation efforts in Bohol, he explained.

Carlito Pizzaras manages the Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary in Bohol.

Tarsier man

The diminutive Pizzaras, called tarsier man, said there were still quite a big number of tarsiers in Bohol in 1966. It was at this time that Pizzaras, who was 12, started getting interested in and taking care of the animals.

Many people discouraged him, telling him the animals were difficult to handle. Tarsiers are known locally as “maomag” – a Boholano term for large and bulging eyes,

The destruction of their habitat and the increase in the number of house cats, which hunt tarsiers, cause the primate’s population to go down.

When he started the sanctuary upon the urging and with the backing of Bohol Beach Club owner Anos Fonacier in 1996, there were only around 10 of the tarsiers.

There are currently a little over a hundred in the sanctuary but this will further go up with the collaboration between the Provincial Government and Philippine Tarsier Foundation, he added.

To reach the sanctuary, visitors need to walk from the main highway through a narrow road flanked by trees.

Popular attraction

The tarsiers are very interesting animals and a popular attraction in Bohol. They are one of the smallest primates and a grown tarsier is only about the size of an adult human hand.

Although the town of Corella is only 30 minutes away from Tagbilaran City, transport to the sanctuary in the village of Canapnapan is quite a challenge especially if you go there on your own and not as part of a tour group.

Getting there

Jeepneys bound for Sikatuna pass close by but they wait until their designated departure time, which could take as long as 30 to 45 minutes if like us you were unfortunate enough to go there when one had just left. They wait at the terminal near the Island City Mall in the Dao District of Tagbilaran. Fare per person was P17.

Going back to Tagbilaran City is also a challenge since only a few public utility vehicles ply this route. After waiting for close to 30 minutes, we were able to flag a metered taxi going back and fare was around P200.

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Albay launches digital tourism program with Smart, InnoPub Media

Travel to the many attractions of Albay, from Mayon Volcano with its near perfect cone to Spanish period churches and other centuries-old structures, has been made easier with the launch…

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Travel to the many attractions of Albay, from Mayon Volcano with its near perfect cone to Spanish period churches and other centuries-old structures, has been made easier with the launch of a mobile app that serves as a handy guide to the province.

The Albay Guide, made possible through a collaboration among the Albay Provincial Government, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), journalism startup InnoPub Media, and other tourism stakeholders, is a comprehensive travel app that can be downloaded on iOS, Android, and Windows phones and other mobile devices.

Albay Digital Tourism

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda leads the unveiling of the Daraga marker to mark the launch of the Digital Tourism initiative in the province. The project is a  collaboration among the Provincial Government, Smart Communications, Inc., and Cebu-based startup InnoPub Media.

“Albay is one of the most beautiful provinces in the Philippines. It has been cited by international tour organizations as the best destination in Southeast Asia,” said Albay Gov. Joey Salceda.

The app lists such Albay destinations as the Cagsawa Ruins, Lidong National Park, Mayon Skyline and Mayon Resthouse, Misibis Bay Resort, Lignon Hill Nature Park, Vera Falls, Kawa-Kawa Hill, Embarcadero de Legazpi, and Danao Lake and provides information useful to visitors, such as detailed instructions on getting to the sites and the many activities they can do when they arrive.

Albay Guide

Intrigued by Mayon Volcano’s perfect cone? The Albay Guide gives you the many ways you can enjoy Mayon.

Whether it is just to know the best spots to view or take a photo of Mayon or get up close and personal through an ATV Ride along the volcano’s lava trail, the Albay Guide is your best bet for information on these activities.

“We’re excited to have this opportunity to bring our digital tourism program to Albay in collaboration with our partners. The province has been a long time partner for various initiatives like disaster preparedness. Aside from enriching people’s travel experiences, digital tourism also opens up opportunities for local communities and businesses,” said Ramon R. Isberto, Smart public affairs group head.

Albay’s beauty, according to Salceda, is not limited to its natural assets. He said the province is also rich in arts and cultural heritage, citing its man-made citadels and monuments, a culinarian that showcases the best in food and thrilling innovations in fine dining, and ladies who have been winning beauty pageants around the world.

“With Albay’s 7.1 percent share in foreign tourists and expanding number of domestic visitors, Smart’s Digital Tourism program will further fortify the province’s position in a highly competitive tourism industry,” said the governor.

Digital tourism

The free Albay Guide app and digital markers on top destinations will lead to greater customer satisfaction through easily accessible tourism information and result in more repeat visitors, he added.

Albay Digital Tourism

Blessing of Digital Tourism markers, represented by the one that will be placed on Our Lady of the Gate Parish Church in Daraga, Albay.

“Digital Tourism will boost our product positioning and brand franchising of unique iconic features like Mayon Volcano and Cagsawa Ruins and such unforgettable engagements as the Mayon ATV. It will also fortify our positioning as ecotourism, cultural, and culinary destinations,” Salceda also said.

Also provided in the mobile app are details on travel to Abay’s ancient churches and other heritage monuments, the best places to sample local fares like Bicol Express, pinangat, and sili ice cream, the best pasalubong and where to buy them, hotels and accommodations, as well the top things to do in the province.

The Albay Guide is one component of Smart’s digital tourism program that was launched last Friday, April 10, in the historic and majestic Our Lady of the Gate Church in Daraga, Albay.

“It is a unique launching place: it is on top of Santa Maria Hill, in front of the centuries-old baroque church, overlooking the center of Albay, and under the shadows of the Majestic Mayon Volcano. How nice it would be to unveil a technological wonder so close to the clouds yet firmly grounded on the natural wonders of Albay,” said Salceda.

Mobile travel

“Mobile plays a key role in travel. A study by Google and Ipsos MediaCT showed phones are used throughout the travel process – from getting travel inspiration to planning, booking, experiencing and even post traveling – with 67% of leisure travelers and 78% of business travelers using smartphones,” said InnoPub co-founder Marlen Limpag, “Our phones do not just keep us connected during our trips, they are our cameras, boarding passes, portable media players and, in our Digital Tourism program, travel guides.”

Interactive markers will also be deployed on special sites like churches, plazas, and monuments to provide visitors more information on Albay’s rich historical heritage.

The markers contain quick response or QR codes and near-field communications or NFC stickers that, when scanned or tapped with a compatible device, trigger the download of more information about a site or structure.

Smart’s digital tourism program is a nationwide initiative that harnesses technology to deliver tourism, cultural and historical information. Through the collaboration with InnoPub Media, the project has been rolled out in Cebu, Iloilo, and Baguio City. It was given an Anvil Award of Merit in February 2014.

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Fantasyland attracts visitors to Dapitan

Dapitan is a relatively small city in the province of Zamboanga del Norte but its amusement park Fantasyland can rival any of the big ones in the Philippines. Fantasyland is…

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Dapitan is a relatively small city in the province of Zamboanga del Norte but its amusement park Fantasyland can rival any of the big ones in the Philippines. Fantasyland is inside a three-hectare commercial complex named Gloria de Dapitan and located within the Dapitan City center, particularly along Sunset Boulevard.

Gloria de Dapitan Fantasyland

The entrance to the Gloria de Dapitan Fantasyland is like that of a castle, with its high walls, towers, and cone spires.

Its version of the roller coaster called Zimmerman is an open carriage ride on a track that rises, plunges, hurtles sideways, and goes upside down.

Although the ride ticket entitles guests to two circuits, I managed to handle only one round.

Fantasyland rides

There are tamer rides for the children and the faint-hearted like the merry-go-round, bumper cars, go karts, water adventure, and ferris wheel.

Fantasyland rides

A space shuttle, roller coaster, and ferris wheel are among Fantasyland’s amusement rides.

We were able to avail ourselves of a promo during our visit in April 2014 and our P500 ticket came bundled with entrances to five Fantasy Land attractions plus a zipline ride at the Dakak Park and Beach Resort.

The Dapitan City amusement park also has 5D theater where you get to experience the thrill of harrowing rides while sitting on comfortable seats, tummy churning swing called Spanish Galleon, 100-meter Sky Drop, twisting and turning Python Coaster, and a Horror House.

Nessi Coaster

The Nessi Coaster is a tamer version of Fantasyland’s Zimmerman.

There are also fantasy characters like dwarves, elves, storybook prince and princess, among others.

Horror house

The horror house is a scary tour of a dark narrow twisting labyrinth decorated with coffins, gravestones, cobwebs, evil-looking dolls, bloodied furniture, hanging bodies complete with actors playing classic horror roles of ghosts, vampires, zombies, and other monsters.

Horror House

Fantasyland’s horror house is not for the faint of heart.

There is a storyline to the tour. One of the characters guides guests by acting as someone asking for help in looking for her sister who is lost inside the house.

Shortly before park closing time, local dancers perform acrobatic feats on stage to entertain visitors.

Other tourist sites nearby: Don’t miss the Punto del Embarcado de Rizal, which is where Jose Rizal first set foot in Dapitan when he was brought there to serve his four-year exile, the public plaza he helped design and the relief map of Mindanao he created as teaching aid, and the Spanish period St. James the Greater Church.

Other Dapitan attractions:

* Rizal Shrine, a 16-hectare estate that used to belong to national hero Jose Rizal
* Dapitan River Cruise
* Dakak Park and Beach Resort

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16 places you should visit in Baguio

Its mountainous terrain and strategic location within the Cordillera mountain range give Baguio City the advantages of a cool temperature and scenic views. The city has an abundance of forest…

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Its mountainous terrain and strategic location within the Cordillera mountain range give Baguio City the advantages of a cool temperature and scenic views.

The city has an abundance of forest reserves, parks, and pine trees, and the high elevation provides many places – from the city center to the outskirts – with sweeping vistas.

Aside from its unique mix of natural and historical attractions, a combination of cultures that incorporates Spanish, American, and native Ibaloi and Cordilleran tribal influences gives the city a unique socio-cultural flavor.

As a retail and urban hub, Baguio boasts of an economic zone and a technology enclave as well as a number of stores carrying imported and top brands.

Co-existing with these establishments are souvenir and other shops selling goods distinctly Baguio such as strawberry products, knitted wear, woodcraft, and silver jewelries.

Baguio center attractions

Within the Baguio central business district are several spots identified as tourist draws by the City Government. They are of walking distance from many Baguio accommodation establishments and include parks, shopping areas, and historical monuments.

1. City Hall building

Baguio City Hall

The Baguio City Hall building was built in 1949-1950.

Your tour within the city center should start at City Hall. This current building, constructed in 1949-1950, replaced the one built in 1910 during the term of E.W. Reynolds, first city mayor, hat was destroyed during World War II in 1945.

To get more details about this building, such as how to get there or its GPS coordinates, and the other sites in the list, download the Baguio Guide from the Google Play Store.

2. Burnham Park

Burnham Park

Man-made lake at Burnham Park.

One of the interesting nature spots in Baguio is an urban park named after the American architect, Daniel H. Burnham, who laid plans for the city in the 1900’s. The park is a sprawling green space encompassing 32 hectares right in the city center. It is just a few minutes walk from City Hall.

The Baguio Guide app provides a list of the different activities you can do in Burnham Park.

3. Baguio Cathedral

Baguio Cathedral

The Baguio Cathedral is one of the most photographed buildings in the city.

Standing on a hill originally referred to as “Kampo” by the native Ibalois, the Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral depicts Gothic architectural influences in its twin spires, stained glass, and rose windows.

The structure also has a distinctive pink color. It was built in phases starting in 1920 not by the Spaniards by a Catholic Mission established by missionaries of the Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae (CICM) from Belgium in 1907.

4. Baguio City Public Market

Baguio public market

Strawberries are sold cheaply and in abundance at the Abanao Market, also known as the Baguio City Public Market.

Baguio is known for its strawberries and in no other area in the city is this fruit sold cheaply and in abundance than in the public market.

Also called Abanao Market, it is located at the foot of Session Road along Magsaysay Avenue.

Other tourist draws

Trips to other attractions take more time because they’re located some distance from the city’s nucleus. Such trips need to be planned and the route plotted ahead of time especially since Baguio has a lot of one way streets.

5. Baguio Botanical Garden

Baguio Botanical Garden

The Baguio Botanical Garden features a wide variety of plants.

Take a stroll along the winding trails and stone steps of the Baguio Botanical Garden. It has a wide range of flowering, herbal, and decorative plants interspersed with pine trees. Some plants are even for sale.

The garden’s main entrance is along Leonard Wood Road, between the Teacher’s Camp and Pacdal Circle. It had been in the past been called Igorot Village, Imelda Park, and Centennial Park. Within the huge park are relics from its Igorot Village days, such as tribal huts and sculptures.

There are pocket gardens within the park dedicated to Baguio’s sister cities. There is a network of Japanese tunnels as well. The Baguio Botanical Garden is just a kilometer away from the city center.

6. Mines View Park

Mines View Park

Mines View Park is a top tourist attraction in Baguio,

No other spot encapsulates the city’s breathtaking scenery better than Mines View Park.

The park, located in the outskirts of Baguio, offers a wide and clear view of Benguet’s mountain ranges where gold, silver, and other ores were once mined, hence its name.

Souvenir items and other Baguio products are sold in the area. Silver jewelry, which the city is known for, is sold at the Ibay’s and Pilak branches in Mines View.

7. Camp John Hay

camp john hay

The world-class golf course at Camp John Hay.

Camp John Hay has often been referred to as the “little Baguio” with Baguio City. The urban design for Baguio created by American architect Daniel H. Burnham in the 1900’s was for a community with a population expected to reach but not breach 25,000.

Some 100 years later, the city’s population has grown to over 10 times more. There are more people, houses, and cars on the road.

Camp John Hay offers a picture of Baguio City as it used to be. More information about Camp John Hay and the things you shouldn’t miss in the mountain resort can be found at the Baguio Guide mobile app that’s offered for free download in the Google Play Store.

8. Wright Park

Visitors may ride any  of the horses at Wright Park.

Visitors may ride any of the horses at Wright Park.

A favorite of kids and adults alike in Baguio is Wright Park where an organization of pony boys offers horseback rides. It is located northeast of the city center.

From the horseback riding area, a stone stairway leads to the “Pool of the Pines,” a quiet stretch with a 100-meter long shallow and narrow pool lined on both sides by Baguio’s towering pines.

The park is named after Luke Edward Wright, American governor-general of the Philippines (1904-1906).

9. The Mansion

Built in 1908, The Mansion on Leonard Wood Road housed a succession of American governor-generals. It is located just across Wright Park.

It is now utilized as the official residence of the Philippine President in the summer capital. The Baguio Guide app contains more information about this Baguio attraction such as where they got the inspiration for its wrought iron gates.

10. Philippine Military Academy

PMA Baguio

War relics and memorabilia displayed at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) grounds.

This premier military institution has its beginnings in Spanish colonial times. Established in the 19th century, it became the venue for the training for sons of soldiers and those aspiring for higher military positions.

Don’t forget to check out the Philippine Military Academy museum, which displays memorabilia related to the development of the academy. PMA allows visitors a peek into a typical cadet room at the museum.

11. Tam-Awan Village

Tam-awan Village

Tam-awan Village features Tribal icons and dwelling huts.

Set on a rolling slope along Lt. G. Tacay Road, Tam-Awan Village promotes and preserves tribal and indigenous cultures and practices.

It offers accommodations in authentic dwelling places of Benguet’s different tribes. The village features seven Ifugao and two Kalinga huts made of indigenous materials.

Following the trail within the village’s mountainous terrain will lead guests to great views of the surrounding environs. The West Philippine Sea sunset, on a clear day, may be viewed from the area.

Lodging and entrance fees provided in the free Baguio Guide mobile app that’s available for download at the Google Play Store.

12. BenCab Museum

National artist Benedicto Cabrera displays his collection of paintings, drawings, prints, and sculpture at the BenCab Museum.

Located along Km. 6 Asin Road, Cabrera’s museum also features works of rising contemporary artists.

An interesting albeit mature spot in the museum is the Erotica Gallery. Drawings, paintings, sculpture, and other artworks by various artists with an erotic subject or theme are displayed there.

13. Ifugao Wood Carvers Village

The way to BenCab museum is dotted with woodcarving shops. The area is known as the Ifugao Wood Carvers Village. Beautiful, hand-carved products are sold at low prices in the shops.

14. Lourdes Grotto

Lourdes Grotto

The uphill way to the shrine of the Lady of Lourdes.

A shrine to the Lady of the Lourdes is located close to the BenCab Museum. The Our Lady of the Lourdes Grotto is accessible through the Dominican Hill Road and pilgrims need to climb 252 steps to reach it.

Since it is located on a high elevation, the shrine also offers fantastic views of the mountainsides.

15. The Prayer Mountain and Tourism Center (Dominican Hill)

Diplomat Hotel

Once a monastery, the Diplomat Hotel now lay abandoned and in ruins.

When the Americans were encouraging people to come to Baguio, the councils of the Province of the Dominican Order voted to construct a monastery on a 17-hectare property they had acquired in the city.

The monastery was later turned into the Diplomat Hotel that is now abandoned and in ruins on Dominican Hill. Residents even say it’s haunted.

16. Bell Church

Located on the border of Baguio City and La Trinidad Valley, this cluster of temples called Bell Church features oriental architecture, ornate gateway, dragon ornaments, and Buddha-guarded windows. It sits atop a hill. The priest in the Bell Temple preaches a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Christianity.

Aside from a list of top places to visit, the Baguio Guide mobile app that is offered for free download at the Google Play Store also contains information on Baguio hotels, restaurants, and other key information.

BAGUIO GUIDE

baguio-guide
Get a guide to Baguio City in your phone or tablet by downloading our free Baguio Guide from the Google Play Store or Windows Phone Store. The app is a comprehensive guide to the Philippines’ summer capital, listing things to do and places to stay or go to. It also contains a portable directory of important contact numbers and DOT-accredited establishments.

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Panagbenga Festival pays tribute to beautiful blooms, unites diverse Baguio

Taking inspiration from Pasadena’s “The Rose Parade,” Baguio City’s Panagbenga Festival is held not in honor of some saint or legend but pays tribute to the city’s beautiful blooms. A…

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Taking inspiration from Pasadena’s “The Rose Parade,” Baguio City’s Panagbenga Festival is held not in honor of some saint or legend but pays tribute to the city’s beautiful blooms.

A historian and museum curator, Ike Picpican, named the festival Panagbenga, a word in the local Kankanaey dialect that refers to a season of blossoming.

Panagbenga Festival

Panagbenga Festival participants perform the warrior’s dance of the ethnic Ifugao tribe.(Creative Commons photo by Miguel Isidro Photography)

For a city that has been through so much, the Panagbenga takes on a special significance as it also means the blooming of an idea or vision for hope, revival, unity, and growth.

Panagbenga Festival 2015 schedule of activities

Father of Panagbenga

Baguio’s crowd-drawing flower festival was conceptualized in 1995 by a man they now call the Father of Panagbenga, Atty. Damaso Bangaoet Jr.

The city was still reeling from a killer quake that left it in rubbles in 1990. The Panagbenga Festival gave people hope for a brighter future.

A tiger float made of flowers was one of the Grand Float Parade entries during the Panagbenga Festival 2010. (Creative Commons photo by Adel Mendoza)

A tiger float made of flowers was one of the Grand Float Parade entries during the Panagbenga Festival 2010. (Creative Commons photo by Adel Mendoza)

Bangaoet, who was then the head of the John Hay-Poro Point Development Corporation (JPDC), presented his idea to the board of directors and it was immediately approved. JPDC allocated funds to help bring it about.

Sunflower emblem

Like its wild sunflower emblem, the Panagbenga Festival continues to blossom year after year.

The people of Baguio and visitors to the summer capital took to the flower-inspired festival as it doesn’t trample on cultural practices or beliefs and divide tribes.

What the celebration does is promote local culture and unite a Baguio of diverse ethnic backgrounds behind a festival it can consider its own.

Bangaoet cooked up the festival to draw more tourists to Baguio on a February, which is considered a lean season for travel.

Festival highlights

The Panagbenga Festival has grown to become one of Baguio’s biggest tourism attractions some 20 years since it was first conceptualized.

One of the highlights of the month-long celebration is the Floral Parade, which happens on a seven-kilometer stretch of street and involves groups of dancers garbed in flowery costumes performing the Bendian dance.

The biggest draw of the Panagbenga Festival, however, is the Grand Float Parade. During this event, Baguio highlights its artistry in the flower float creations that glide through the streets.

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Panagbenga 2015 Schedule of Activities

The Panagbenga Festival in Baguio City, now on its 20th year, pays tribute to the city’s beautiful blooms. Although it’s a month-long celebration, the flower festival’s highlights include the Grand…

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The Panagbenga Festival in Baguio City, now on its 20th year, pays tribute to the city’s beautiful blooms.

Although it’s a month-long celebration, the flower festival’s highlights include the Grand Street Dancing Parade and the Grand Float Parade.

One of the groups that performed in the Grand Street Dancing Parade, one of the highlights of Baguio City's Panagbenga Festival,  in past celebrations. (Photo taken from the Baguio City Government website)

One of the groups that performed in the Grand Street Dancing Parade, a highlight of the Baguio City Panagbenga Festival, in a past celebration. (Photo taken from the Baguio City Government website)

The street dancing parade happens on a seven-kilometer stretch of street and involves performers garbed in colorful costumes decorated with flowers performing the Bendian dance.

In the Grand Float Parade, Baguio highlights its artistry in the flower float creations that glide through the streets.

The Panagbenga Festival 2015 theme is “Across Twenty Years of Blossoming Together”.

Panagbenga Festival highlights

Grand Street Dancing Parade
February 28
Locations: Panagbenga Park, Session Road, Harrison Road, Athletic Bowl

Grand Float Parade
March 1
Locations: DILG, Session Road, Harrison Road, Athletic Bowl

Panagbenga 2015 schedule

Here’s the fully Panagbenga Festival 2015 schedule of activities:

February 1, 2015

* Opening Ceremonies and Street Dancing Parade Competition
(Drum and Lyre Dance Competition – Elementary Division)
Locations: Panagbenga Park, Session Road, Harrison Road, Baguio Athletic Bowl

* Baguio Blooms Exhibition and Exposition
Location: Lake Drive, Burnham Park

February 2 – 14, 2015
* Baguio Blooms Exhibition and Exposition
Location: Lake Drive, Burnham Park

February 15, 2015
* Baguio Blooms Exhibition and Exposition
Location: Lake Drive, Burnham Park

* Handong ng Panagbenga sa Pamilya Baguio
Location: Melvin Jones

* Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom
Location: Melvin Jones

* Panagbenga 2015 Kite-Flying Challenge
Location: Melvin Jones

* Panagbenga Variety Show
Location: Melvin Jones

* Fireworks Display
Location: Melvin Jones

February 16 – 18, 2015
* Baguio Blooms Exhibition and Exposition
Location: Lake Drive, Burnham Park

February 19, 2015
* Baguio Blooms Exhibition and Exposition
Location: Lake Drive, Burnham Park

* Chinese Spring Festival
Location: City-wide

February 19 – 22, 2015
* Baguio Blooms Exhibition and Exposition
Location: Lake Drive, Burnham Park

* PMA Grand Alumni Home Coming
Location: Philippine Military Academy, Loakan Road

February 23 – 27, 2015
* Baguio Blooms Exhibition and Exposition
Location: Lake Drive, Burnham Park

* Floral Arrangement Competition and School-based Landscaping Competition (Judging)
Location: Elementary and High schools in Baguio City

February 28, 2015
* Baguio Blooms Exhibition and Exposition
Location: Lake Drive, Burnham Park

* Grand Street Dancing Parade
Locations: Panagbenga Park, Session Road, Harrison Road, Athletic Bowl

* Sponsors’ and Exhibitors’ Day
Location: Athletic Bowl

March 1 , 2015
* Baguio Blooms Exhibition and Exposition
Location: Lake Drive, Burnham Park

* Grand Float Parade
Locations: DILG, Session Road, Harrison Road, Athletic Bowl

* Sponsors’and Exhibitors’ Day
Location: Athletic Bowl

* Session Road in Bloom
Location: Session Road

March 2 – 6, 2015
* Baguio Blooms Exhibition and Exposition
Location: Lake Drive, Burnham Park

* Session Road in Bloom
Location: Session Road

March 7, 2015
* Baguio Blooms Exhibition and Exposition
Location: Lake Drive, Burnham Park

* Session Road in Bloom
Location: Session Road

* Pony Boys’ Day
Location: Athletic Bowl

March 8, 2015
* Baguio Blooms Exhibition and Exposition
Location: Lake Drive, Burnham Park

* Session Road in Bloom
Location: Session Road

* Panagbenga Closing Ceremonies and Grand Fireworks Display
Locations: Athletic Bowl and various areas in Baguio’s (Central Business District) CBD

Panagbenga 2015 Schedule of Activities
Source: Baguio City official website

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Top 10 places to visit in Albay

From Mayon Volcano with its near perfect cone to white, golden and black sand beaches, waterfalls and caves, Spanish period churches and ancestral houses, Albay is home to scenic spots…

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From Mayon Volcano with its near perfect cone to white, golden and black sand beaches, waterfalls and caves, Spanish period churches and ancestral houses, Albay is home to scenic spots and majestic structures.

The province is a complete destination for travellers who are after leisure, adventure, and new experiences.

With all that Albay has to offer guests and tourists, the Provincial Government under the leadership of Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda and Vice Gov. Harold Ong Imperial has made tourism one of its priority programs.

Daraga Church Albay

A view of Mayon Volcano from Our Lady of the Gate Parish Church in Daraga.

Albay attractions, whether natural or built wonders, are easily accessible by private or public transport.
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