Category Archives: TRAVEL

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Far off in the horizon lies majestically…A moody mountain, a sight to see…A beauty it is, in days of gloom…When mist and clouds veil its glee…In days of warmth and days of sun…It’s quite unabashed with its sense of fun…Oh that I may run to it or raise my scopes…To experience this wonder, quite hard to cope…Blessed be the Shaper whose hand has wrought…Makiling that my heart has caught.

Rean here…

October is about to end and Christmas is fast approaching.  The twinkling of Parols are once again commonplace in the streets.  Artificial Christmas trees reclaim their prominence in homes and offices nationwide.   In the coming days, the hordes of shoppers will invade season bazaars and market places like Divisoria.  Urban arteries will suffer the annual congestion of conveyance.  Oh! The joys of Christmas!  It’s my hope that the focus this season will be to give to people rather than to get.

We had a reunion a few weeks ago with some friends whom we haven’t seen in a long while.  We met up in church in Sta. Rosa, had lunch at our favorite country market eating  joint  and rendezvoused in Tagaytay for coffee and fellowship. We ended up in Taal Vista Hotel’s coffee shop that afternoon. We got there before the rain started to pour. Soon after, the fog rolled in. The nice part about it was that they lit the fireplace. aaaaaah, nice and cozy…. Curious cat that I was, I wondered if they used an electric fireplace insert. So I asked the head waiter about it. He said that it wasn’t electric. Anyway, I didn’t bother much about it anymore. It was just a  great way to spend the afternoon with our friends…relaxing by the fireplace…catching up on where we left off… over a relaxing cup of tea and then some.

the view from where we sat

cafe on the ridge

hamming it up with friends

happy to be with good old friends

chillaxin’ : chika and relaxing (lol)

nope, i didn’t have that!

I had this… 🙂

there was a wedding while we were there… 🙂

sizzle… crackle…crackle

Rean here…I’ll be your blogger while Tes is working on a project.

Ambivalence has floated around me in the past few days, as I learned at least 3 families close to us are moving.  My brother-in-law and his bunch are off to Canada while our dear friend from Davao is embarking on a family exodus to Alabama.   To top it off, our neighbors are now setting their sights on California.  It’s not one of those Branson vacation packages but rather a more permanent arrangement.   While I’m glad for the improvements in these families’ lives and  wish them all the best in their new homes, the chats and visits will surely be missed. Hopefully we can visit them in the near future

Yes, m’ladies. 4 steps. I didn’t say fast. I didn’t say easy. I just mean 4 steps with lots of little sub steps in between. This is a follow-up  to my original post  How to Renew Your Passport so I guess this contains the latest information and updates. I’ve taken some pictures to give you a visual so that you know what to expect when you go to the DFA. If you  left a comment or question under the original  post that was unanswered, perhaps your queries might be answered in this latest post. I’m not a travel agent nor do I claim to be an expert in this area nor am I a DFA employee. My aim is simply to consolidate all the bits and pieces of information about renewing your passport all into one post. Hopefully, someone will find the information useful.

Here’s how our regular passports have evolved.

Above: MAROON Passport (left), GREEN Passport (right) – issue discontinued, will expire as scheduled on their original expiration dates, some countries may deny entry to holders of the green, handwritten passports;

Machine Readable Passport or MRP. (left)  (I have this one right now.) The MRP is no longer shown as an option on the sidebar of the DFA website. My guess is that they are slowly phasing it out and all renewals will be the ePass type. I intend to convert mine to an ePass even before the scheduled expiration date. Electronic Passport, Biometric or better known as  ePass. (right) This is the current type of passport being issued by the DFA right now. The little rectangle  below the word “Pasaporte” differentiates it from the MRP.

A little note about the ePass:

The ePassport takes the MRP to the next higher level and standard in travel documents:  an embedded microchip containing the following: Data essential in verifying the passport holder’s identity, including the holder’s personal data, biometrics and digital signature. This chip is interoperable, that is to say, it can be read by any standard passport machine reader in border controls worldwide.

  • A complex laminate that protects the data page against tampering;
  • Customized invisible images on every page; and
  • A hidden and coded technology that allows the encoding of the holder’s name and passport number on the passport photo.

source: DFA – Speech of Dr. Alberto Romulo  (my note: ‘next higher level‘ sounds kinda redundant…)

Before I get into the steps to renewing your passport, check out this list:

4 Steps  you need to take BEFORE going to the DFA:

STEP 1

  • SET AN APPOINTMENT. By CALLING (02)737-1000 or by APPLYING ONLINE at http://passport.com.ph. If you call, a Customer Care Officer will assist you in setting your appointment. He/She will ask you to provide your personal info and will advise you on the applicable requirements you need to bring on your scheduled appointment. If you apply online, you have two types of appointments to choose from – INDIVIDUAL or FAMILY. You need to FILL UP an online form based on the type of appointment you choose and CHOOSE an appointment DATE and TIME. Allot enough time to process your passport and the time of your travel. We set our appointment early May 2010 and we were scheduled June 30, 2010. If you are in a hurry, you might not be able to leave according to your schedule. Anyway, if you do have the time, these are how the online forms look like:

Did You Know?

ALL passport applicants scheduled for appearance must appear physically at the DFA at the date and time of their scheduled personal appearance for data and image capturing. This applies ALL to  passport applicants, aging from 0 years old onwards. DFA is strict about the personal appearance system, absolutely no chaperone allowed for passport applicants aging 18 years old onwards.

STEP 2

  • DOWNLOAD, PRINT and FILL OUT the passport application forms completely with the appointment reference numbers. WRITE DOWN the reference number given to you because it will be used to cross-check your appointment once you get to the DFA. We were not able to print out the forms because my dh’s laptop crashed. It was actually a blessing in disguise because we found out a glitch in the online appointment system. We contacted Customer Service and discovered that dh was not included in the appointment list even though he applied for himself and our two kids. The system only reflected  our kids’ appointment and his could not be found. It’s a good thing that he had a copy of the appointment reference number so they were able to trace the appointment. Thank God!

STEP 3

  • ASSEMBLE all your requirements. PHOTOCOPY all necessary documents. Applicants will not be admitted at the entrance gate without valid appointment and application forms. For a detailed listing of passport renewal requirements you can check out my previous post How to Renew Your Passport or DFA.

STEP 4

  • ARRIVE EARLY. You must be at the DFA Consular Office 30 minutes before your scheduled time. Early/Late comers will not be entertained. By experience, our June 30 schedule got bumped off because it was declared a holiday. We were given the option to choose which day and what time to go so they were a bit more lenient because of that. Otherwise, as with any other appointment, don’t arrive on time. Arrive before the time. On your appointment date, proceed to the DFA Consular Office located at ASEANA Business Park, Bradco Avenue corner Macapagal Boulevard, Paranaque City (see map below).

Location Map

Here’s a pic I took on our way to the DFA.

Did You Know?

The DFA Passport Appointment System by Internet is currently available ONLY for the DFA Passport in Manila. It is important that all the needed details (i.e. full name, date of birth, place of birth, latest passport number and date of issuance) are provided when you make the request for appointment.

So you’ve done Steps 1 through 4 and finally, you’re all set to go to the DFA. Here’s what you need to do now.

How to Renew your Passport in 4 steps (DFA Aseana)

STEP 1 – Processing

  • PRESENT your printed application form and supporting documents to the Appointment Counter. You will find them immediately as you enter Gate 2 of DFA Aseana. The assigned personnel will verify your papers and your reference number. Once completed, they will direct you to GET your queue number at the Information Counter and then WAIT for your turn inside the Processing Area. Your queue number will appear on the monitor indicating what processing window you will go to.

Here’s what the Processing Area looks like. There are 23 windows (not all are open) available.

Here’s where we sat while waiting for our turn. Wish we had patio cushions but it was kinda fast so it was fine. It was a bit like playing musical chairs.

After the shortest wait in the whole process here’s what happens next. Submit all your documents to the person behind the counter for verification and inform them the type of processing you want – Regular or Rush (Expedited). They will ask you to sign some forms re receiving your canceled passport and you will be directed to the next step.

Did You Know?

Passport Fees

Regular Processing: Php 950.00 (20 working days)

Rush Processing: Php 1,200.00 (10 working days)

An additional fee of Php 200.00 will be charged for processing of Lost Passports if it is still valid.

STEP 2 – Payment

  • Hooray, you survived Step 1 so now it’s on to Step 2. GO TO THE SECOND FLOOR and look for the Passport Enrollment Center. You won’t miss it. Go inside this room and PAY your passport fees at the CASHIER.  After that, go a little further into the room and GET another number and wait for it to be flashed onscreen. Once you see your number, proceed to your assigned enrollment booth.  Step 2’s a fairly easy step, depending on how long the line is. You’ll be done with this one within tolerable time.

Here are a few more pics to show you how it looks like.

The Passport Enrollment Center. Note: the spelling looks a bit weird and shows up in my spell check so I’m sticking to the old spelling.

This is how it looks like inside. You can see where the cashier windows are.

Don’t forget to get your number at Number 3 or else they won’t process your enrollment.

STEP 3 – Enrollment

  • Step 3 is where it get’s a bit tricky. This is the part where they do all the biometric stuff. They encode all the data in your application form, get your thumbmarks (left and right) and they take your picture against a light blue background. No need to bring pictures that get rejected after you’ve done all the queuing and waiting. Since that’s a lot to do just for one application, how much more if you’re a family. So this is the longest part of the whole process. The number we picked was 2500 so we had to wait for a looooooong while before it became our turn.

Here are more pics to give you an idea of what it’s like.

Check out the numbers on the screen. We picked 2500 so you can imagine how looooooooooooooong we had to wait for our turn.

This is what happens when you become bored from waiting. A poor paparazzi shot of Benjie Paras (the one in stripes) who was there that day.

On the wall near the escalator…going up to the 2nd floor.

The holding area (the view from outside)… where people inside waited… and waited… and waited…

Can you tell how bored I am…

FINALLY!!! Our turn…

Data Encoding. Check. Fingerprints. Check. Signatures. Check. Snapshot. Check. Hallelujah!!! It’s almost  5 0’clock…whew! We made it!

STEP 4 – Delivery

  • Finally, the long wait is over and you’ve done Steps 1 through 3. You now have the option of claiming your passport personally or have it delivered to your doorstep via courier. We opted for the latter since we didn’t want to go back to the DFA.

After 2 weeks… and a day earlier… TADA!

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Ü lol

RENEWING YOUR PASSPORT IN DFA REGIONAL CONSULAR OFFICES

Did You Know?

ePassport is now available in 19 RCOs Nationwide.

As of June 18, 2010, the Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of Consular Affairs encourages the public to avail of the passport processing and/or renewal in any of the 19 Regional Consular Offices (RCOs) located nationwide.

The RCOs are located in:

  • Clarkfield, Pampanga
  • San Fernando, Pampanga
  • Baguio
  • La Union
  • Tuguegarao
  • Batangas
  • Lucena
  • Puerto Princesa
  • Legazpi
  • Iloilo
  • Bacolod
  • Tacloban
  • Cebu
  • Cagayan de Oro
  • Davao
  • Zamboanga
  • Butuan
  • General Santos
  • Cotabato

LIST OF DFA OFFICES

DFA Main Office: Board of Foreign Service Examinations, Department of Foreign Affairs, DFA Building, 2330 Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City ° Tel. (02) 834-3080/ 3083 ° Fax (02) 551-5976

DFA RCO Baguio: Don Monsylito Building, 16 Legarda Road, Baguio City ° Tel (074) 424-3358, 442-2258 ° Fax (074) 442-2255

DFA RCO La Union: Pasado Building, Pagdalagan Norte, San Fernando, La Union ° Tel (072) 888-3733, 888-3107 ° Fax (072) 888-5484 ° Email: dfalaunion@sflu.com , la_union@dfa.gov.ph

DFA RCO Tuguegarao: Municipal Building, Tuguegarao, Cagayan Valley ° Tel (078) 846-4813, 846-1482 ° Fax (078) 846-2310 ° Email: tuguegarao@dfa.gov.ph

DFA RCO Clark Field: Balikbayan Shopping Mall, Claro M. Recto Avenue, Clarkfield, Angeles, Pampanga ° Tels. (045) 599-7777 ° Fax No. (045) 599-6555 ° Email: pampanga@dfa.gov.ph

DFA RCO Lucena: 3rd Floor, Pacific Mall, M.L. Tagarao St., Barangay III, Lucena City ° Tel. (042) 710-4526, 373-1898 ° Email: dfarcolc@pldtdsl.net

DFA RCO Puerto Princesa: 2nd Floor, Puerto Princesa City Coliseum, National Highway, Barangay San Pedro, Puerto Princesa City

DFA RCO Legazpi: 4/F, LCC Expressmart Building, Rizal St., Legazpi City ° Tel. (052) 480-3000, 820-3396 ° Fax (052) 480-1773 ° Email: dfa_ legazpi@yahoo.com

DFA RCO Iloilo: Yulo Street, Iloilo City ° Tel. (033) 336-1737, (02) 487-3041 ° Fax (033) 335-0221 ° Email: dfailo@skyinet.net

DFA RCO Bacolod: 2nd Floor, East Block Square, Circumferential Road, Barangay Villa Monte, Bacolod City ° Tel. (034) 434-8338

DFA RCO Cebu: Causing Lozada Building, Osmena Blvd. cor Lapu-lapu Street, Cebu City ° Tel. (032) 256-3193, 253-6798 ° Fax (032) 256-0624 ° Email: cebu@dfa.gov.ph , dfacebu@mozcom.com

DFA RCO Tacloban: Leyte SMED Center, Capitol Site, Sn. Enage, Tacloban City ° Tel. (053) 321-8233, (053) 321-8237 ° Fax (053) 321-8237 ° Email: taclobansco@dfa.gov.ph , dfa_rcotac@glodelines.com.ph

DFA RCO Zamboanga: Go-Velayo Building, Veterans Avenue, Zamboanga City ° Tel. (062) 991-4398, (062) 991-2202 ° Fax (062) 991-7958 ° Email: rcozambo@jetlink.com.ph

DFA RCO Cagayan de Oro: Geleng Building, Lapasan Highway, Cagayan de Oro City ° Tel. (08822) 724-309, (088) 857-2175 ° Fax (08822) 726-578 ° Email: rco@cdo.webling.com , cagayan_deoro@dfa.gov.ph

DFA RCO Davao City: Ebro-Pelayo Building, E. Jacinto Street, Davao City ° Tel. (082) 227-3900, 224-4885, 227-0713 ° Fax (082) 221-4552, 227-0712 ° Email: davaorco@ultimate.info.com , davaorco@yahoo.com

DFA RCO Butuan: CESIA Building, Montilla Boulevard, Butuan City ° Tel. (085) 342-7822 ° Fax (085) 342-5700 ° Email: dfarco_butuan@yahoo.com

DFA RCO General Santos: Gaisano Complex, J. Catolico St. Lagao, General Santos City ° Tel. (083) 553-8380, 826-9089 ° Email: rco.gsc@gmail.com

DFA RCO Cotabato: People’s Palace,City Hall, Cotabato City ° Tel. (064) 421-3478 ° Fax (064) 421-3495

ETA: (edited to add)

DFA RCO Pampanga

OIC: ASUNCION N. FLORENTIN
City Central TrTerminal (CCTT)
Lazatin Blvd., Corner Olongapo-Gapan Road
San Juan, City of San Fernando, Pampanga

Tel. No: (045) 961-6175
Email add: pampanga@dfa.gov.ph
rcopampanga@yahoo.com

More RCOs will be opened this year and in the future to further enhance the issuance of passports to all Filipinos travelling overseas.

The Philippine ePassport is also now being issued by the following Foreign Service Posts (FSPs), namely: Agana, Brunei Darussalam, Chicago, Doha, Dubai, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Kuala Lumpur, London, Los Angeles, Milan, New York, Osaka, Ottawa, San Francisco, Seoul, Tokyo, Toronto and Washington D.C.

Other FSPs are expected to issue the ePassport in due course.

The Philippine passport is also widely accepted by most commercial establishment as a valid government-issued identity document.
(source: DFA Public Advisory)
Thanks for reading this far. It’s been a looong post but I hope you find it useful. If you find it helpful, comments are highly appreciated. Shameless plug – if you want to stay up to date with the latest on my blog – follow me on twitter.

Bumped off! I just learned today that we can’t renew our passports on June 30, it being declared a holiday. Ugh! DH got an email today from the DFA saying that our scheduled appointment will not push through. They did give us alternative schedules, though. I haven’t really set my mind on traveling because of the oh so many things I have to fit in my day. I’m not in “travel mode” yet so I haven’t really had time to check out good deals on Branson tickets, in case we do want to go to Missouri (Missou-ruh?). I was looking forward to learning how the E-passport renewal system works for myself so that I could give specific answers to those questions  people ask me about renewing passports (in another post). Anyway, we still have to renew regardless of what appointment schedule we get so I will post the outcome here on my blog. So hang in there, mga kababayan who have passport woes. I’ll keep you posted on the latest passport procedures as soon as we have ours.

Later, folks!

We took a little out of town trip yesterday with our kids for their annual homeschool achievement test. Our kids together with their friends took the Metropolitan Achievement Test at Westfields International School and thankfully they all passed! woot woot! It was approximately a two-hour drive to Angeles, Pampanga. A bit stressful because I volunteered directions to get to NLEX. Hah! I’m not a driver but I’ve had lots of practice being a backseat navigator (yup, loooooong drives across the Arizona desert with a rest area map in my hand hahahaha). Now, I’m not much for road signs but I have a hidden compass somewhere in my brain that tells me, YOU”RE LOST!!!!  EPIC STRESS! Oh well, I think stress is one of the best fat burners around or maybe not? We did get there in the nick of time and we had lots of yummy cupcakes (thank you, Chots!) to comfort our rattled nerves.

Bottomline, the kids passed! After that, we hied off to Clark to do a little Duty-Free shopping therapy. I was still a kid when I went to Clark and all I remember was a huge toll-booth looking gate with lots of US soldiers checking if you had a gate pass before allowing you in. What was unforgettable to me was the Commissary with lots and lots of imported goodies (well, I had my eyes on the candies). I still remember the Pop Rocks I got back then. I was amazed how those little rocks popped and fizzed in my mouth! Ahhhh, the simple joys of childhood…

Clark has changed quite a lot since then. Gone is the big gate. So are the American soldiers. No more Commissary. Lots of Duty-Free shops though. What I found so cool was those digital timers attached to stoplights that countdown the seconds till the signals change color. I wish we had those in Manila. There were also certain parts of the landscape that reminded me of California. Well almost. The intense tropical heat kept reminding me I was still in the Philippines.

Overall, it was a lovely day spent with the children and with friends. A bit tiring but I know  that when I will look back to this day, I will probably forget all the stress and just recall the time spent with my kids and my heart friends.

A few pics from our trip:

Its summer in the Philippines and people are travelling left and right to take advantage of their children’s school break. Some take long drives to Northern Luzon to get some nice weather (get your life insurance quotes handy!). Others fly to the beaches in the Visayas or take adventures in Mindanao. Still others go out of the country to see some sights. Wherever you go, the important thing is to have the family together. Everyone must have a bit of fun. It must be a time of making memories together. In the end, its not the souvenirs you buy that make your vacation special but the sheer delight of remembering your love ones in those special places 10, 20, 30 years from now. Quite priceless!

With the death of our friends’ mom, we have been traveling back and forth to the Sta. Mesa, Manila area.  As it is our tradition in the Philippines, we stayed up late during this wake to support our friends.  We would then travel home to Sta. Rosa, Laguna past midnight. It was quite stressful for my wife because of all the trucks that were traveling during this time of night  They were practically kings of the road. This makes you want to get additional low cost car insurance plans because of the risk you are taking as you travel with these monsters.  Anyway, we got the Jesus insurance plan which is more than enough to get us home safely.

Here are some tips for those travelling past midnight along the Southern Luzon Expressway (SLEX)

  • 1. Don’t go beyond 80 km/h.  This is especially true southbound before Alabang.  The construction of the Skyway extension has some lanes closed between Alabang and Sucat.
  • 2. Don’t take the service road.  Trucks usually take this route. With elections coming, last minute road work is going on.  Half the road is closed between Bicutan and Sucat.
  • 3. Frequently look far ahead.  With lanes closed, you’ll have to watch for arrows indicating lane merges.  You’ll see this near Carmona.
  • 4. Don’t challenge trucks and buses.  They are just too big and can hurt you seriously.

Hope this helps. Have a safe trip

If you are looking for a place to stay in Makati that’s priced reasonably, one of the options you might consider is staying at the BSA Towers along Legaspi St. right across Greenbelt 5. We’ve had the opportunity to stay there a couple of times and so far our experiences have been pleasant. I’ve read mixed reviews about the place so I’d like to add my 2 cents worth to help you decide whether you want to stay there or not.

CONVENIENT LOCATION

One of the major factors we took into consideration was convenience – mainly for my in-laws’ sake. They are senior citizens and not quite as mobile as before so having Greenbelt 5 directly across the condotel is a big plus. No need to get caught in traffic and wait for hours just to get to a mall.

This is the view from the balcony of Room 1208.

we can see Greenbelt 5 and beyond…

the entrance to Greenbelt 5…

PARKING

This factor might not be important if you are a business traveler flying in from a province or another country. However, if you live in and around NCR (National Capital Region) and you have your own vehicle, having your own parking slot is a big plus. Some condotels do not provide secure parking spaces, unlike BSA Towers, where we were alloted a parking slot within the building. If you are not ready to risk your car being “chop-chopped” or if you haven’t said yes to that auto insurance quote you’ve been offered, then you might want to consider staying at BSA.

STAFF PERFORMANCE

We had a problem with one of the bathroom faucets in Rm. 1208. There was just hot water coming out of the faucet and no cold water to mix it with. Having two kids with us, this was not safe at all. I called the front desk to have the Maintenance check it and shortly after, they sent someone to fix it. It turned out that the cleaning guys forgot to turn on the cold water valve under the sink. Problem fixed. I also called in a couple other requests which I’ve forgotten already but overall, the staff were courteous and polite.

Here’s how the bathroom looks like in the Master’s bedroom:

HOTEL CONDITION/CLEANLINESS

Generally, the building is old. The lobby is small and looks more like the hallway of an office building rather than the lobby of a hotel, so don’t expect something grand. The room we stayed in was decent. No broken furnitures etc.  I’m not quite sure about the other rooms, though. All I can say is, if you stay in Room 1208, then you’re good.  Housekeeping is daily and the sheets are changed everyday. Our room package did not include breakfast but I wouldn’t miss it anyway. Last time we stayed at BSA, they served breakfast in bento boxes. It was probably good while hot but mine was already cold when I woke up so I didn’t really enjoy it.

ROOMS/ACCOMODATIONS

There was nothing glaringly wrong with the room we stayed in. The living area was spacious. The kitchen was small but adequate. I did have to switch a few appliances around to make the work area more efficient but overall, it was ok. The dining table was a bit small for us because it could only accommodate 4 people. We ended up taking turns during our meals. The balcony doors were locked, for safety reasons probably. The beds were comfortable. Our room was a bit small and they had to configure the beds in such a way as to fit 2 twin beds, a cabinet and a mirror as well. The bottomline: the room met our needs and so we were quite satisfied with it. Again, I can only speak for us and our experiences in the room we stayed in.

Here’s the kitchen…

… the kitchen, one of the bedrooms and one of the bathrooms…

… our bedroom

VALUE FOR MONEY

I think if you’re not looking for a resort hotel, but something more practical, affordable, and accessible then, BSA Towers is worth the stay. It may not have the other amenities of the larger hotels like a pool, a gym etc. etc., but  it makes up for all that in many other ways.

***BSA TOWERS is managed by Quantum Hotels and Resorts

One little note, I just want to commend the security guards of Greenbelt 5 for helping out with the wheelchair. When my in-laws go to a mall, I usually get a wheelchair for my father-in-law to use around the mall. Some malls allow you to use and keep the wheelchair while you are there. Greenbelt 5 has a different procedure. They don’t allow you to keep the wheelchair with you. Instead, they bring you to your destination and you can just inform the guards to let them know you need to go somewhere else. What was really nice about them is that when we were done malling and called security for the wheelchair, they even brought my father-in-law right up to the doorstep of the BSA Towers. Kudos, to you!!!!

I survived! I took another trip to Divisoria a few days ago and I can now say to myself I won’t get lost anymore in this jungle of a marketplace. This time I even have pictures to boot! I planned to get to Divisoria early but unfortunately, I got too excited planning my trip the night before and ended up leaving late the next day. I left the house around 9am and expected to arrive at around 10:30am but I got caught in a monstrous traffic jam. I ended up in Divi past 12 noon. Tsk tsk! BUT all things work together for good so I guess it was all for a reason.

My entry route to Divisoria was through Binondo where the you see the famous Chinatown arch landmark after passing the Jones Bridge and the original Savory restaurant. The next landmark you will find is the rotonda where you will see the Binondo Church. Traffic was so bad, I got off at Starbucks and began my hunt in Juan Luna St. Take a look at where I got off.

This is where Juan Luna St. starts coming from Binondo.

**JUAN LUNA STREET

WHAT YOU WILL FIND: t-shirts (wholesale), t-shirt printing, commercial paper, printing and binding supplies, office equipment and supplies and a lot of banks in

Juan Luna Bridge – On the left side of the bridge, you will find  Ilaya and Tabora, New Divisoria Mall, M. de Santos etc.. On the right, you will find Juan Luna Plaza, Meisic Mall and 168 Mall. If you go straight up, you’ll end up on C.M. Recto Ave. where you will find Tutuban Mall.

** I turned left 2 streets after the bridge and bought 2 packs of jewelry foam from this lady who didn’t mind my taking a picture of her.

**COMMONER’S COMMERCIAL

This is how Commoner’s Commercial looks like. These guys were sport enough to “candidly” pose for me. Ü

WHAT YOU WILL FIND: acrylic boxes (be sure to bring a sample of the item you want to box so you can choose your size), plastic bags, sando bags, plastic bags with adhesive, kraft paper bags, round magnets, french fries boxes, plastic containers, cups and boxes for food or baked stuff, acrylic sheets, bubble wrap, cling wrap, colored wire, jewelry tags, paper and other packaging stuff.

** MORNING GLORY

Not quite sure if this is Morning Glory or Good Morning but nevertheless they’re both on the same street and both of these store sell sewing stuff.

WHAT YOU WILL FIND: all kinds of beads, thread, glitter, ric rac, lace, fabric flowers, sequins, buttons, ribbons and all kinds of jewelry and sewing stuff that you can imagine.

**WELLMANSON SEWING NOTIONS

I don’t have a picture of the store, but yes, there is a Wellmanson store in Divisoria.

WHAT YOU WILL FIND: jewelry making materials, findings, beads, jewelry tools, glitter, feathers, ric rac, lace, swarovski crystals, little wire tie twisties,

**TUTUBAN MALL COMPLEX

I just discovered that Tutuban Mall was divided into three buildings – am not quite sure if this is how they’re called : 1) Prime (where National bookstore is)  2) Block (the building with the escalator 3) and Cluster (the one parallel to Recto)

99 Slice and Dice Steak resto – So far this is where we always eat when we are in Divisoria.  We usually have the beef salpicao and kangkong. Affordable and tasty.

I discovered that there were other interesting places to eat just outside Tutuban Prime, near the parking lot. Maybe we’ll try them next time:

This is where we parked. This is directly behind Tutuban Prime.

I asked the security guard to pose for me (feeling John L. hahaha) Ü

Finally, this is what happens when the malls close. NIGHT MARKET!!!!!!! Pardon the blur. I was trying to shoot while in a moving car. Ü I just wanted to show how the shopping is still relentless even at night.

If you’ll notice, my pictures start out bright under the heat of the summer sun and end with  street lights and headlights galore. That’s how long it took us in Divisoria. I think I’ve walked my feet to death. It felt like walking on a treadmill that you can’t get off from. aaaaack.

Overall, despite all the hassles and difficulties of shopping here, Divisoria is still the mother of all markets hands down.

Check out the first post I did on Divisoria here—> http://teystirol.com/2009/11/17/decoding-divisoria/

Hope this post helps someone. HAPPY SHOPPING EVERYONE!!!!!

During the recent visit of my in-laws, we brought them to nearby Solenad at Nuvali to have lunch. We wanted them to see the place as there were new restaurants added since the last time they came for a visit. The kids also wanted them to see the hundreds of koi fish in the man-made lake at Nuvali. My in-laws are not as mobile as they used to be. I probably need to read more information on rheumatoid arthritis to find out what could help them as it has become increasingly difficult for them to walk far.

Crisostomo is one of the latest additions to Solenad, the commercial area of Nuvali along the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay road. We weren’t quite sure about it because I haven’t seen or heard of it before but since that was the nearest we could find and that was all that two hungry and grumpy old folks could bear, we went in to have lunch. Entering the restaurant reminded me of Maria Clara and old Manila. It dawned on me that the name Crisostomo was probably taken from Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere of which Crisostomo Ibarra was one of the lead characters. I looked around and surveyed the interiors. It was nicely furnished and I particularly loved the old electric fan that you only see in your great great grandparents’ house. Their menu offered Filipino-Spanish cuisine with a twist. I glanced at the station where they had a computer and I saw the name Florabel. I had seen the chef/owner of Florabel being interviewed once on TV so I assumed it was part of a chain of restaurants. A little while later, I think I actually saw the chef/owner of Florabel gesturing to her staff to make sure our orders were taken care of. THAT is a good sign.

We ordered the monggo soup and a salad with green mangoes in it. Then we ordered the mixed platter that had everything on it – barbeque, pork chop, vegetables, oysters, fish etc. It was quite nice and just the right portion for a party of 7. I don’t remember any particular dish that stood out but for me it was enough to satisfy the old folks so it was fine. The service was good and the staff was attentive to our needs. It was a nice little discovery borne out of necessity. There are more new restaurants popping up here in Nuvali. So for all you foodies out there, I’ll try to post our food escapades as they happen.

Ciao or better yet, Chow!

It was quite an amazing drive today as I was going to the Airport this morning.  Even though it was a Friday, the SLEX seemed to be clear of traffic.  Typically you would have bumper to  bumper conditions when you reach the Alabang viaduct.  In these conditions, you normally would have auto insurance quotes handy. In the past few days, however,  traffic has really been good.  It took me about an hour to reach NAIA terminal 3 from Sta. Rosa.  Don’t really understand this fully but its really really good!