A Home Away from Home...
My family and my guests stayed in Mabuhay Manor on our last trip to the Philippines. There is nothing fancy about the Hotel but I liked the service, I give them 5 star for that. The staffs were really friendly, they looked after us very well and made us all feel very welcomed.
The room rate was inclusive of breakfast. Rooms are spacious and clean, the people at the reception are on the ball. It's proximity to MOA was one of the reasons we chose to stay there. I knew I was going to be spending a lot of time in the Mall. But it was also quite near the Airport, so that was another reason.
The only disappointment I had was the travel center in the hotel. I am in the travel industry in NZ and I am use to exceeding clients expectations...it did not happen on both occassions I tried to use their services. But it didn't worry me as I managed to organise everything myself and have saved me quite a lot of pesos.
I would highly recommend this place to anyone looking for that "value for money" kind of stay!
PLUS..if you are a Christian...you can't go anywhere better! My 16 year old son said "Mom it's like eating at home"...and he was referring to the softly played Christian Songs in the background as we enjoyed our meal... No views but great breakfast menu (especially for Balikbayans) but I saw a lot of foreigners loving it too! I should know because our friend from Europe really enjoyed breakfast. It has a pool, internet connection, most of the rooms we stayed at had two showers and or two toilets.
Cheap accommodation close to NAIA
Reservation didn't require my credit card information. It was a quick 2-minute reservation process. Getting the right number to call for the reservation was quite a challenge. If you call the number that was written on their main website, the receptionist will tell you to call a number, which will never get you to the reservation clerk because the auto-pickup service will keep you on hold FOREVER.
Should the front desk assign you to Room 231, ask if the AC has been fixed and doesn't leak. This manor house is close to the airport (2Km) 20-30 mins travel time (considering the traffic). A kilometer away from asia's biggest mall (Mall of Asia).
Offers free coconut juice from 9AM to 2pm. Offers a cheap Php20 (5 cents) shuttle ride from the manor to Mall of Asia. This manor is not advisable if you decide to go on foot and check the surrounding area at night.
Try to get online booking. It's way cheaper. Otherwise, the reservation officer will jack-up the price by 1/3, but will make you feel you had a good offer because it will include a free airport transfer (arrival/departure).
Stick with the online price listing and arrange for your own cab, you are able to save big time!
"connecting the present with my past..."
After our pack full of activities 2 day trip to Aklan, we managed to get my parents organised for our trip to Ilocos. Last time I went there was when I was about 12 years old. That was a long long time in the past.
I managed to get to Farinas Bus Terminal just across the street from UST Hospital on time to get the last 4 seats for the evening trip to Ilocos. Tired from the hectic Aklan trip, I soon settled in and slept most of the way, getting up only for that yummy hot congee...we call arroz caldo!!! HHmmm haven't had that for years.
The trip went so quick, mainly because I was asleep most of the time. Soon found ourselves getting off the bus and my cousin waiting in his 4 wheel drive at 4am in the morning! Quinarayan, a small barangay in Narvacan Ilocos Sur. I was born in this little village.
That morning I had my first "fresh ipon" (a member of the goby family)...a very small fish with black beady eye! Back home it can be served in more than a couple of ways. My favorite is "as is"... that's my version of "raw fish". It is served fresh with lots of ginger and tomatoes and a pinch of salt. It can be marinated in vinegar and then steamed or boiled...or you can make a soup out of it! Food from my region can be the most boring food in the world but that is what I miss so much! Nothing compares to the taste and aroma of freshly caught fish or greens picked from the backyard washed, prepared, cooked and served all in one straight process...AAAhhhh...the simple life in the village! To me that is ultimate luxury when I come to think of how back in NZ we have to eat greens that has been seating in the fridge for a week, maybe more!
It was nice to reconnect with my roots. A close relation took a day off just to show us around. I had with us a friend from Europe visiting my country for the first time. He really enjoyed having the chance to see and experience something most tourists don't get to experience. Spending time and sharing a meal outside where everyone in the neighborhood sat and talked (okey with lots of Ginebra San Miguel for the guys); he really appreciated the chance of seeing how the locals really lived.
A day trip covered Vigan and Paoay so we checked out the Malacanang of the North, which is I think a shame that it is not being looked after the way it should be. The toilets at the ground floor reeks in stench, so bad that I skipped half of the ground floor area of the building.
The Morroccan style and only 5 star accommodation in Ilocos, the Ilocandia Resort, was quite nice. It wasn't busy and having the beach just for ourselves..what a nice feeling! There was not a soul on the beach as far as our eyes could see! What a privilege! But my brother told me later that it can get quite busy and crowded..
The next day, one of my cousin's child offered to drive us to USOK, the boundary of Ilocos Sur and Abra. That was a something different, we enjoyed that long trike ride, passing by lush mountains and valleys and feeling that fresh early morning air on my face as we drove along.
The one thing I really appreciate in our culture is the way people go out of their way to make their guests feel really looked after.
If you are in Vigan...take the extra effort to go to "Hidden Garden" in the heart of the city to have something to eat! Youll' enjoy your meal in that secluded place and feel uplifted by the lush and green surroundings! It's worth it! The locals religiously promote Baluarte, which is rather like a Zoo. It was okey but it is not something I would rave about unless you are going there with kids.
Vigan is the provincial capital of Ilocos Sur. The city is considered a "World Heritage Site". It is due mainly for it's role in the past and it's preserved Hispanic architecture. The things that comes to mind when Vigan is mentioned is usually food! It is very well known for its Empanada and Longanisa (filipino sausages).
"Baguio City: City of Pines"
I think I was 9 years old when I first visited Baguio City. Though uncommon for Filipino families to have annual holidays, I was lucky enough to have
grandaparents who enjoyed going away 2-3 times each year. They had a couple of jeepneys (common mode of transport) and they would take them out of operation for a week or two just to take the whole family including a few of our neighbors to the next province or to Loaoag City or Manila.
I also remember when I use to sneak out from the Church Annual or Biennial Camp in Pangasinan wjicj my family use to attend. One afternoon, my parents and grandparents freaked out when they found out I had been to Baguio. I must have thought buying strawberries for them would save me from being told off.. I learned it did not work. Looking back now made me realise that even then I guess I already had that itchy feet syndrome.
As we ascend up to the City of Baguio, I told my friend, if there is any place in the Philippines I would want to live in...it'll be Baguio City, the City of Pines. How disappointed I was the next day when I found out the Baguio I know is no longer the Baguio that is today! It has now become too crowded and the air quite polluted.
The Mines View Park always had that special charm in it...I did not feel it this time. To me it has lost it's City of Pine feel, definitely.
I can't seem to marry the picture in my mind with the picture that was there infront of me. Losing that natural feel and aura as well as the natural identity of a place is a price we pay for progress.
"Sagada - Mt Province"
Sagada is a place where one could get up before dark, tackle 2-3 caves creeping into small crevices or huggin the wet and slippery walls of the cave in order to get down and wade into it's underground river; climb one of her peaks, swim it's river or just admire it's limestone rock formations decorated with "Hanging Coffins", walk it's rice fields and backyard of houses planted in a sea of green Kumara leaves (sweet potatoes)...and at the end of the day still feel alive and refreshed! That was our experience in Sagada.
It is a place I would like to go back to again and again as it recharges me physically, emotionally, spiritually! If you are looking for a close encounter with nature and culture...Sagada is the one place to go.
"Pagsanjan Falls - Rapids Shooting..."
Mabuhay Manor hires their van for a day for P3,500 including petrol and driver. The driver was a very nice gentleman (sorry I can't remember his name). I decided to hire a van rather than take the package day trip deals from Swagman Hotel. With three of us, we actually saved a lot more and we had our privacy. We used mabuhay Manor's sister company as a base in Pagsanjan. It was hassle free! They also allowed us to use their swimming pool after our Waterfall Activity.
I found this short day trip from Manila quite enjoyable, even if this is not my first time to visit this place. My son really enjoyed it especially that natural hydromassage you get when you go under the falls...which is quite exhilarating at the time...only to find my muscles quite sore the next couple of days.
On the way back, our driver cum guide dropped by at a place to pick up a few boxes of freshly baked macapuno pie...a specialty food from Laguna. Then we headed back to Manila and got there before dark.
"Whale Shark Rendezvous"
I wasn't particularly keen on doing this part of our trip. I can't swim so anything that involves water is not so enticing for me. Unfortunately I knew this was the number one in my friends "Priority To Do List in the Philippines".
After the fiasco with Philippine airline...we got to Donsol in the end. Mayon Volcano is impressive. I grew up knowing this volcano by heart but never seen it with my own eyes. Now I am here and I am awed by its presence.
From the airport we took a 5 min drive to the bus/van stations or terminal. Got to Donsol sweating like old dogs... I have never been to Donsol before and have no idea what the accommodations are like in Donsol. We ended up staying at Vitton Resort. Though it offers the best in comfort and facilites and being next to the Whale Shark Registration Office...personally now that I have experienced it... I will go to Amor Farm next time. More value for your money and the beach is nice and quiet. A plus factor in staying here is that they have more reasonable room and food prices and more choices/variety in their menu.
We also enjoyed the evening "Firefly Tour" along Donsol River... I cannot describe it for anyone... you just have to go there and experience it!
I will always cherish that moment when I had to decide in split second whether I jump into the deep water or be dealing with my fears the rest of my life...or whatever is left with it. It was quite liberating to know that I could jump into the deep sea and float... :-)... I must admit I did not see a thing on the first jump. All I was focused on was survival... then the next jump was more relaxed and actually enjoyed it! The rest that followed were almost fun until I start to feel my muscles aching....
"Manila...we keep coming back to her.."
In the past we normally spend about 50%-75% of our time in the Philippines staying in either Manila or Angeles City. This to me was torture as I did not share my ex-husband's love for girlie bars and the red light districts. Neither did I enjoy the drinking up to the wee hours (I don't drink by the way). Being an asthmatic this was a bane in my life and I have no idea why for 12 long years I put up with it. This time we only used Manila as our base in between our trips to the provinces. And no bars this time! What a relief!
Sometimes we visit a place and see the main cities and we think we know the whole country and the people. There is a totally different life and culture outside the big cities, outside the popular tourist areas. In the villages 95% of the people are real, down to earth people. One need to see these places and meet these folks in order to really know a place.
Yet I must say Manila has it's own magic that can be quite addictive at times. It's a shoppers mecca. Manila is also a food gourmet's wonderland...if you are keen to travel an hour out of the city I have been told you could sample some weird Filipino dishes. To what extent, I have no idea. Someone I know would have loved to give it a go if it wasn't due to our limited time.
But I do believe it is more a shoppers mecca than anything else; from bargain stuffs to luxury items! You can literally shop til you drop! A lot of us who live outside the Philippines go home for three reasons... first, to visit relations; second, to eat to our hearts desire food we miss a lot ( most of these we can buy in countries we live in but they never taste the same) and again it could be due to that Fresh Factor I mentioned earlier; last but obviously not the least is to shop like mad...and I mean really mad! And if we are being honest...I really think this is the main reason we keep going home! Some say shop until you drop...and literally you will if you don't know how and when to stop.
Metro Manila has a rhythm that does not die nor stop. We went to Greenbelt Shopping Mall in Makati and I have never seen this anywhere before. The sales staffs stood on line and sang a popular filipino folk song. The only ones who were not singing and dancing or clapping their hands were the very few who were serving customers. Shoppers went and joined them in their line and sang, swayed and clapped with them the whole time we were there.
One thing that could make tourists' experience/s better is for Filipino Sales Staffs to work on and up their Customer Service...they are quite behind in this department.
Having spent just a few days in Manila, I was quite surprised, I actually enjoyed it this time! If you are fit and healthy it's ok to explore Metro Manila. Transport is quite cheap but it will cost you your time. If you want to relax, unwind and interested in culture, please go to one of the beautiful islands...Boracay, Palawan and a lot more...there are after all more than a thousand islands just waiting for you to explore! Puerto Galera is only a short trip from Manila if you don't want to go to far.
Need economical rooms for 10 nights
I need a double occupancy room in Manila in any area, not too far from airport, for ten nights starting on 11th May 2007. I am not too fussy about luxury, but it has to be a clean room with clean bathroom etc., and TV with US channels (CNN etc.). The one with internet access will be preferable but not very important.
Re: Need economical rooms for 10 nights
have a look here:
Re: Need economical rooms for 10 nights
What is an "Economical" room rate to you? Coming from Japan a tourist might think that $75 a night is a real bargain!!!
Check out these two hotels in the Ermita area of Manila. Not far from the Robinson Mall, U.S. Embassy, stores (internet shops too) and restaurants. Other cheaper hotels are in this area also. The following two hotels have air, hot water, TV (cable,) private toilet shower, etc.
Citystate Tower Hotel www.citystatetowerhotel.com.ph or http://www.citystatetowerhotel.com.ph/accommodations.html
Lotus Garden Hotel www.citygardenhotels.com or http://www.secure-guestv4.com/new/select_date.php?hotel_id=31&campaign=ex
Re: Need economical rooms for 10 nights
Try Mabuhay Manor.. They have big rooms, pool, internet access and cable. It is also very near to SM Mall of Asia..