Hotels

Asia Novo Boutique Hotel (Sorsogon City)

Happy New Year Blogsville! I hope you all are happy and well this 2018.

I’m posting one of my hotel reviews now lest I forget the things I want to say about my stay at Asia Novo Boutique Hotel in Sorsogon City where we stayed last December 22.

Actually, we liked this hotel. The hotel is new so the room we stayed in, which was the Queen Deluxe or Queen Suite, was fresh and smelled fresh too (so important!). I like new hotels for a reason after having experienced staying at pitiful old establishments with old rooms that smelled of mold and mildew (yikes). NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 4

I especially liked that the sheets were white so you can see if it’s really clean or not. NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 1

This room we stayed in at Novo was also spacious and bright since there was ample lighting inside the room.NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 5

Also, the cable TV was working well and the A/C was split type so it tends to get very cold.NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 3NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 7

However, the room was not without its issues like wall paint coming off, less than immaculate bathroom, and that housekeeping forgot to provide us with bathroom tissue, bathroom door mat and trash bin (there was only one and it was inside the bathroom). Also, I noticed that the bathroom wall was wet and had map-like patches from within which I suspected was the result of heavy rains in Sorsogon and something like a glitch in building construction.NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 8

On the upside, I like that their staff on the front desk were gracious and welcoming. I’m happy they let us check in early (around 1:00 PM) even though when I booked, it was indicated that check in time was 2:00 PM, but I like that they accommodated us so we were able to leave our bags inside the room before we went to my Mama’s house. However, I noticed they were not very keen about online booking since they did not confirm to travelbook.ph that I stayed at the hotel on the date of my booking so I was almost penalized because I was declared as a no-show (Wait, what?! Does this look like a no-show?). So, after a few exchange of emails with the said booking site with me sending them pictures as Exhibit A, B & C (so hard when the burden of truth is on me), I finally got myself acquitted from the charges and was declared innocent beyond reasonable doubt (I hope).

So, what’s more to like? The hotel has an elevator for the convenience of the guests. That’s my baby Julienne between the elevator door and the Christmas tree.NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 13

Below is the view from the third floor where One Burgos Resto is just across the street. Their meals tasted great and were reasonably priced. We had our lunch there after we checked in at the hotel.NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 11

The next morning, we just ordered coffee and Nissin Seafood instant cup noodles from the front desk and Yoy went out to buy delicious breads from Kambal Bakery nearby before we checked out.

Over all, I am happy with my stay at said hotel, especially that I got it for only Php681.00 (24 hours) through online booking at travelbook.ph using the Php300.00 discount promo they sent me as a member. Thank you for the discount!NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 12

 

 

 

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Places

Merry Christmas Sorsogon!

Merry Christmas one and all!

Christmas is only a couple of hours away and I’m sure lots of us are busy doing last minute Christmas shopping. I should know since I’m about to get ready to do some last minute for tonight’s Christmas dinner myself. Just some stuff we haven’t yet bought, like cake maybe.

Anyway, I just got back from visiting my folks in Sorsogon City. As usual, it was too short of a visit. We only stayed overnight, so we haven’t had a chance to even see a lot of places  or meet with friends. I noticed there were a lot of new establishments though – like the Gaisano Mall for instance. We haven’t even been to Gaisano. All we did was go to and fro to buy stuff for my folks’ Christmas dinner, catch up with them and then catch up on some sleep ‘coz so dead tired. And it was always, always raining!

On the night of our stay in Sorsogon, however, we braved the rain and our soaked feet and went to the park infront of Sorsogon Capitol Building. Just because I was intrigued when I momentarily caught a glimpse of the bright lights on our way to Asia Novo Boutique Hotel.

Drop lights adorned the trees while there was a long line of bright colored yellow trees lighting up the whole park inspite of the rain.sorsosogn city christmas 2017 2sorsosogn city christmas 4

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Below is the very bright and all lit up Sorsogon Capitol Building. We just stood there as we watched the whole building change colors. sorsosogn city christmas 5Picture5

We had the park all to ourselves because nobody else was there save from three little boys who stripped buck naked and used their little butts to slide on the wet tiled surface of the elevated stage we stood on. So slippery ,and “Weeeeeeee!” they all went gleefully sliding on their butts while we were beside ourselves laughing. They didn’t give a rat’s ass about what other people thought, they were happy.  Picture2sorsosogn city chritsmas 3sorsogon city christmas 2017 1

I missed my hometown Sorsogon, and I always regret not having enough time to reconnect with and really get to know the city I spent the most part of my childhood in. As time goes by and I get older, I get less memories and flashbacks that I connect to the places of my childhood as I visit less frequently.

Till then, Merry Christmas everyone!

Places

AMAZING CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN LIGAO CITY, ALBAY

Hi everyone!

I have always wanted to see the much talked about Christmas lights and displays in Ligao City. The Ligaoeños, I hear, take their yearly Christmas displays rather seriously. And it pays off, since Ligao has always been featured on both local and national television this time of the year.

So, I thought it was really lucky that my co-workers and I got to go on a side trip to Ligao after our Christmas Party in our regional office in Legazpi City last Friday. It was almost 8:00 PM when we got there, and at first, we hesitated since we did not really know which way to go. It was our first time to go to the centro of Ligao but it did not take long for us to find the church and the lights display was so easy to find that we didn’t even need to ask for directions. All we needed to do was to “follow the light(s)” hehe. So by this time, I was already very excited and I haven’t felt that way about Christmas in a while, or maybe I just got excited to find new material for my blog? Hmm.

We parked inside the compound of Saint Stephen Promartyr Parish Church. This is what the church looks like at this time.Christmas Lights in Ligao City 2017 1

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And just outside the church is the 54 meters tall Christmas tree made from blue LED lights with a star on top. It’s kinda hard to take a photo of the whole tree though because some guys just stood around it (really closely) even when they’re obviously not having their picture taken. Anyway, the tree was amazing!christmas lights in ligao city 2017_8

Then we went to their plaza which is adorned by hundreds of star-shaped lanterns locally called parol in the Philippines. It was such an amazing sight to see. Just three colors- dark blue, sky blue and purple.christmas lights in ligao city 2017_4

Isn’t it weird how a bunch of lanterns lighting up the dark night can stir up some feelings of child-like excitement and wonder? Things one may have forgotten in his quest for a better shot at the future by slaving away infront of the computer meeting deadlines, and being oblivious to the rest of the world. Such a toxic life can be a real pain in the ass in the long run because time flies and we will not live forever.

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” So the lanterns were there to remind me I should live a little, or live more.chritmas lights in ligao city 2017_11

A little trivia, do you know that the Christmas tree and the star lanterns were hand-made by jail inmates in Ligao? It’s good that they have used their talents for a good cause. Their work is not too shabby, by the way.christmas lights in ligao city 2017_6christmas lights in ligao city_16

When we were there, a lot of people were in the plaza to watch “Patiribayan sa Ligao” which was a singing contest. Everywhere, the smell of popcorn, barbeque and hotcakes was very inviting but I kept thinking if only there was somewhere I could get a cup of coffee. I didn’t get my cuppa though because we already had to leave.christmas lights in ligao city 2017_9

The people of Ligao must be very proud for coming up with such a great way to put their place in the map, so to speak, by making sure that the festive mood of the holidays can be felt by everyone who visits. It sure is something to look forward to every year. Christmas is only a few days away, I hope you all are excited and feeling the Christmas spirit already!

 

 

Places

Robinson’s Place, Naga City

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

We took a stroll at Robinson’s Place, Naga City last night and I was so thrilled to find that a giant Christmas tree is up! Well, that’s just me, something I brought along from my childhood is that old feeling of giddiness whenever I see a Christmas tree all pretty and bright. This particular Christmas tree is really pretty but I’m afraid my camera specs did not exactly give it justice. Nevertheless, I hope you see it as I do. =)Robinsons Place, Naga City

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Julienne likes the Christmas tree!

Before that, Yoy, little Julienne and I met Mama Pat and Tita Inky at SM City Naga, and together, we took a tricycle ride to Robinson’s Place which is located in Diversion Road at Brgy. Triangulo. To say that SM is packed with shoppers this time of year is an understatement as it is seriously stressful to go about your business when people are going on a buying frenzy like that. The queues for the ATMs, for McDonald’s take out and the lines at the cashiers were really long. Queues were everywhere. It was a good thing we only stayed there for a few minutes. The only consolation was that at least people were lining up instead of going in a mad dash (I think that stampede for the Php8.00 Shark’s Burger in SM North EDSA might be the one major proof in history that we are not getting any smarter with time).

Here are some photos I took to show what Robinson’s Place looks like right now in preparation for the coming Holiday Season:robinsons place, naga city10robinsons place, naga city11robinsons place, naga city5DSC09090DSC09094DSC09095robinsons place, naga city3

Although there were more people than usual as there was an event going on when we arrived, and of course, more Christmas shoppers, at least it wasn’t as crowded. It helped that this mall is bigger and the building is a lot newer than SM. It recently just opened last August 15, 2017 so everything is fresher, cleaner and their restrooms are really neat, clean and not gross. I guess, SM needs to step up their game soon, it’s a good thing they have their prime location going for them.robinson's place, naga city4DSC09029

So, if you’ve never been and if you ever find yourself in Naga, you might wanna check out Robinson’s Place for the ambience, good selection of restaurants, great customer service and helpful/friendly staff. You might also wanna go there for the holiday feels as Christmas lights are everywhere and their aircon is always so cold that I get the chills even when I’m wearing a sweater.

 

 

 

 

Food

MarkDom’s Chips & Dips (ALDP Mall, Naga City)

Hi everyone! I just want to quickly share with you my thoughts on those pretty tasty crepes we tried out last night.

So, I was with some office mates last night and we checked out this new food stall called MarkDom’s Chips and Dips located inside ALDP Mall (food court) in Diversion Road, Barangay Triangulo here in Naga City. markdom's-chips-and-dips

At the risk of looking like a couple of weirdos taking photos of every food on our table before eating, I think we managed just fine between taking photos and tasting our food subjects. Such is life I guess when three out of four in one table happen to be bloggers lol.

The first one we tried was the Lebanese Shawarma Crepe. It was very fresh and just right for the health-conscious. Who knew shawarma would taste real great on crepe?

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Lebanese Shawarma Crepe

Next thing that arrived on the table was my order. Voila! The Peach in Almond Custard Crepe with Ice Cream. This one was really sweet and delicious. The custard caramel sauce was great and there were delectable slices of peaches inside. Yummy!

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Peach in Almond Custard Crepe with Ice Cream

Then came the very delectable and very Instagrammable (is this even a word?!) looking Okonomiyaki Crepe. It tasted like, well, of course, Okonomiyaki. But if you’ve never had one, it is safe to say that it tasted so much like Takoyaki. Everyone has had Takoyaki at least once right? Not really? Oh dear…

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Okonomiyaki Crepe

Last but definitely not the least was the Pizza Crepe. It was also very tasty, such a pity I was so full already by the time this arrived.

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Pizza Crepe

So with the four of us versus four tasty crepes, I must admit we were satisfied and full. I didn’t even need to eat dinner after.

Prices are really affordable as their crepes are being sold for only Php80.00+. Hope you get to check out this place when you are in Naga!

Places

NAGA CITY IN SEPTEMBER

Whenever the month of September comes, also marks the onset of the busiest time in Naga City as preparations for the Penafrancia Festival can immediately be felt. You can feel the energy as the usual pulse of the city suddenly gets a little bit quicker as the excitement for the festivities builds up.

Naga in September is like a crazy mass of crowd. People are everywhere, mostly dressed their best, lining along the roads to watch the Civic Parade and Float Competition, the Penafrancia Voyadores Festival Street Dance Competition and the Bicol Region Military Parade, among other activities. Also, there are concerts going on almost every night sponsored by the malls like SM, Robinson’s Mall and LCC. Across the street from SM City Naga in Barangay Triangulo, a carnival was also set up wherein the air is always wafting with the smell of newly cooked hot cakes and popcorn to the delight of the kids, with rides like the ferris wheel, caterpillar ride, horror train and the carousel. Peddlers and vendors are everywhere calling out to the crowd offering their wares.DSC08308

Nothing says fiesta more than the Banderitas hanging everywhere in the city. It’s great to see them blowing in the wind, you know it wouldn’t be fiesta without them.

 

By the way, you know what would be the best and most meaningful thing to do when in Naga? Let’s go do a Visita Iglesia! (visit the churches). Ok, did eyes just go rolling for a split second there? Nobody thinks this is fun? Well, I hope more and more people are willing to go along with this because you don’t have to be a Catholic to appreciate a tour of our beautiful churches. You have to visit these churches to understand why they are a major part of the city’s identity and the life of its people.

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Basilica Church in Balatas, Naga City

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Naga City is not known as a pilgrim city for nothing. Its churches are its main attractions and the city welcomes thousands of devotees of “Ina” come September of every year. So, maybe you won’t find beautiful beaches here like in Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes, but Naga City is spiritual as it is a happening city.

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Naga City Metropolitan Cathedral

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San Francisco Church at night
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Partial View of San Francisco Church

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Sadly, the influx of tourists and devotees of Our Lady of Penafrancia does not help the crime situation any as thieves also get busier during this time of the year. So I would advise everyone in Naga to please ever be so mindful of your valuables just like you do when in Manila. Wear those sling bags that can be worn across the body with the bag placed right infront of you. If carrying a backpack, wear it on reverse (as in infront of you). Of course, you can’t do this with those really big backpacks so just for the small sized ones then. And please, please avoid brandishing your high-end cellphones about, as tempting as it can be, or as nice as the rose gold color of your iPhone 7 matches your pretty peach outfit, please stop yourself from doing this. I have seen some people do this and all I could think about was “there goes another victim in the making.” The augmented police force is everywhere, in every corner, in every nook and crook, but they can only do so much. They can’t watch every single person in the crowd all the time. So better watch out for yourselves. Be smart, be careful, and don’t be a victim.

Happy Fiesta Naga!

 

Resorts

HACIENDAS DE NAGA (NAGA CITY, CAMARINES SUR)

It’s September once again and it’s the Our Lady of Peñafrancia Festival here in Naga City. I feel the festive mood as more people flock to the city that seems to have gotten even busier. The sights, sounds and activities are exciting indeed. However, I will have to put you on hold for now with the festival as I plan to write about it on my next post.

As of now, I can tell that many tourists and folks from nearby towns have arrived as I hear different languages and dialects being spoken in the crowds. And really, it has become more crowded at Centro, CBS terminal, at the churches and malls like SM. September is always a vibrant and happy time to be in Naga. However, sometimes all that roaming around and chasing after what events to watch and what things to do next can definitely take its toll on anyone. Sometimes, you just need to relax and really have fun for the sake of having fun!

So, if you travelled to Naga for the fiesta, but some R&R is very much in the order of your business, Haciendas de Naga might just be the right place for you. This resort, located in Brgy. Carolina, has a massive land area where you can do all sorts of activities like horseback riding, pili nut picking, wall climbing, and of course, swimming. Its major attraction is their massive wave pool and water slides.haciendas-de-naga-8haciendas-de-naga

By the way, the deepest part of their pool only reaches up to about 4.5 feet so it’s safe even for those who are not very good swimmers. Just make sure to stay in the shallows if you happen to be shorter than 4.5 feet LOL, especially when the waves are on so you won’t swallow the pool water or drown. No worries, they also have a very spacious kiddie pool so the kids can swim safely.haciendas-de-naga-10 haciendas-de-naga-2

If you like water jets, Haciendas has something sort of like that too to massage aching backs, just sit inside of this round elevated pool with the fountains (look for the mermaid). haciendas-de-naga-3

You can also lie on your stomach on the concrete ground and let the water being spouted by the “dolphins” to massage your whole body. It is a pretty relaxing experience.haciendas-de-naga-13

You can also explore the grounds and see the massive fish aquarium but sadly, it is so very poorly maintained and the water is stagnant and blurry that I highly doubt a single fish would survive thereat. I don’t have a picture as I decided against taking any. Hopefully, it is all improved by now.haciendas-de-naga-9haciendas-de-naga-1

The thing about this resort is that it is kinda far from the Centro of Naga, but the upside is that they offer free transportation if your group is composed of seven (7) or more persons. They will have their van fetch you infront of Nagaland Hotel which is in a very accessible location in Centro. However, if your group is small or if going solo, you can take a jeepney infront of San Francisco Church in Centro going to Brgy Carolina and ask the driver to take you to Haciendas de Naga wherein he will pull over on the tricycle stop that you will then take to bring you to the resort. Waiting for the jeepney to Carolina can take such a long time though as jeepneys going there are few and pass by far in between. The more attractive alternative is to rent a tricycle or one of those E-trikes that are plenty here in Naga to take you directly to the resort. The price will depend on how good you haggle with the driver. Mine was P300 for one way trip only as I had to go solo to join family members who went ahead earlier.

Anyway, the entrance+swimming fee at their Wave Pool is P300 for adults and P250 for kids. Prices can go up and down depending on the season and sometimes they have off-season promos so watch out for those. Better yet, you may contact their office at (054) 228-0375 or 0937-371-2451 and don’t be shy to ask for a discount or for promos especially if you are with a big group during off peak season.

For complete information on their rates and fees, please visit Rates and Fees.

Resorts

Dos Montes Natural Hillside Spring Resort (Malilipot, Albay)

There are a lot of good resorts to visit in Albay for families and friends looking to have fun in the water. One of them  is located very near along the National Highway in Barangay 1 Poblacion in the town of Malilipot. It is called Dos Montes Natural Hillside Spring Resort. As the name suggests, you can expect to find free flowing mineral-rich spring water which guarantees that the water is always fresh and cool. The resort has swimming pools both for adults and for kids as well as water slides for guests to enjoy.294945_449622468387997_2014583293_n526266_449620331721544_413612671_n536502_449622551721322_302164530_n

Some of their cottages are situated on the elevated reinforced hillside to give a great relaxing view of the whole resort as well as of the lush greens surrounding it. Just prepare your ears for the possible onslaught of videoke machines though, apparently we can’t have fun anymore without them. Lol.576563_449625481721029_1435118569_n546141_449622361721341_1862355388_n156591_3180686844913_1008543855_n

Their charges and fees are very affordable for P90.00 entrance fee for day swimming both for kids and adults and P100.00 for night swimming. For complete information on fees and the rates of their cottages click Fees and Cottage Rates.

Places

Daraga Church (Daraga, Albay)

Nuestra Señora de la Porteria Parish Church, really more known simply as Daraga Church, is a Roman Catholic Church in the municipality of Daraga, Albay, Philippines. The church was built by the Franciscans in 1772 under the patronage of the Our Lady of the Gate.

For the locals, Daraga Church is the go-to place of worship every Sunday wherein the breathtaking overlooking view of Mayon Vulcano has become but a normal sight. In fact, it only ever draws the usual ohhhs and ahhhs of amazement from visitors, being that it has always been there and the locals have gotten used to it by now, like an ever present, father figure watching over his brood.

However, on a particularly good day when the sun, the light, the clouds and the bluest sky have all conspired with each other to give you just a glimpse of that magical view, it honestly does have the power to make you catch your breath.daraga church 2view from daraga church

I remember years ago, there was much discussion on the radio as well as between everyone who cared to have an opinion that they were totally against the move of applying white paint over the facade of the church. Everyone thought the church looked regal and classic enough on its natural state, just gray and no paint on the outside. Some even said that the unpainted church showed so much character, that it was all the better showing off its age than pretending to be contemporary. However, it still ended up being painted on with white and people were outraged for a while. It took a few days (maybe weeks) but people got over it eventually.582513_447627698587474_1157023064_n

To this day, Daraga Church remains to be one of the must-see places when visiting the Bicol Region, especially the province of Albay. It has also been featured in some local films, one of the most recent was She’s Dating the Gangster wherein Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo (Filipino actors) had a scene shot inside the church.

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Places

Magayon Art Gallery (Albay Provincial Capitol)

When in Albay, make sure to visit the Magayon Art Gallery, located at the lobby of Albay Provincial Capitol Building, which serves as the avenue for local artists to show off their visual creations. It is especially fun to go there during Magayon Festival because of the many activities like the parade of huge folklore characters made of paper mache, parade featuring the different  festivals of the different towns, pageants, trade fairs and beer plaza. However, since the festival was just held last month (May 2017), I think it will be something to look forward to next year.

The Capitol Grounds555335_447606448589599_1233813034_n392494_447606468589597_272496225_n

Magayon Art GAllery

 

549421_447606805256230_1172652317_n575242_447606835256227_1981817209_n579723_447606928589551_2068803416_n So, I was being dorky and found some ways to make this painting more interesting I think using just the format tools (effects) of MS PowerPoint:normal

Glow Edgesglow edges

Plastic Wrapplastic wrap

Cut Outcut out

I have been to the GSIS Museo ng Sining in Pasay City and have seen paintings of Fernando Amorsolo and Juan Luna’s “Parisian Life” up close, but I found myself just as impressed by the works of our local artists in Bicol. So, if ever you’re in the area, I recommend you give the Magayon Art Gallery a visit. Thanks for stopping by!