GUEST POST | Fabulous Family Holidays

Dominican Republic | Photo collage source

Family holidays are a memorable occasion – sometimes for good or for bad! – and one that every family looks forward to. Every family wish-list is different – and that’s what makes holidays with the little ones so enjoyable. Perhaps you’re planning a trip to a beach-centric destination with plenty of watery fun and splash-tastic activities on the agenda. Maybe you’re heading for the hills and planning to spend a week in a private villa with your own pool. Or maybe you’re going all out this year with a fortnight of fun in Florida. Whatever tickles your fancy, there’s an overwhelming choice of family holidays at your disposal – so which one will you choose?

Travelling as a family of four, five or even more can be an expensive experience. So if you’re searching for discount family holidays that won’t break the bank, you should try to book your jolly well in advance. Most tour operators advertise holidays as far away as 12 or even 18 months ahead of the departure date, which means you’ve got all that time to save some money and pay off the cost of your trip. Late deals are another option, but when you’ve got the family in tow you need to know that the resort is spot-on, with all the right activities and facilities on offer. Get it wrong, and you could easily be heading for a week of “I’m bored”. So for families, the advance-booking concept is often the best option.
If you’re planning to visit far-flung shores, what a treat awaits! There’s Mexico’s Caribbean Coast which is well geared up for holidaymakers from all walks of life, with excellent all-inclusive hotels and plenty of local entertainment. Holidays to Dominican Republic is another favourite, while elsewhere in the Americas, Florida is a must-go destination that’s bound to be right at the top of your list of all-time favourite family holidays.
So with all that choice, where will your fabulous family holiday take you?

On Traveling With The Boys

I did not, so much, mind being the only double X chromosome bearing human in the group. A good friend, J, was not so keen to hearing that thought during the planning stage. Neither was I. It was my first time to be traveling in an all male group. But I was comforted at the thought that I trusted these guys next to my brothers, and close male relatives. 
With Peter, Karl, and Geric
When traveling in such, understand that trust is a mighty thing to lean on, and a good thing my family already knows the guys. I was both excited, and anxious for this trip. Excited because it has been a long time since I’ve been with college friends on the road, and anxious because I know how, uhm, evil-minded these guys can be. After all, you hang around with your kind. I’ve known these guys for nearly a decade, and we already know our pet peeves, wired minds, what – not’s, and those inner-you’s only a few would get to see. Okay — they are equally nice guys as they are, uhm, good looking. But from day one the plan was born, I knew I had to be one of the boys with them. 
When traveling with the boys expect:
1] Rough conversations on a guys perspective —- on MOSTLY everything! Be okay that your voice will be heard, but generally they are calling the shots in the conversation. Unless it’s, uhm, about-girl-stuff topics that they would know a female opinion. Don’t get easily irritated by it. Irritation is a heavy baggage to carry in on a trip. It is actually entertaining how differently guys look at a lot of things.
2] Some. Secret. Jokes.
3] Determination. They could scour nearly the entire neighborhood relying on virtual mapped out city when the sun is nearly rising high peak, on foot, and hungry. Go ahead and ask the local passerby where the nearest breakfast place is. Remember the sociobiological fact that guys NEVER ask for SIMPLE directions — IF they can help it. Being a female in the group, you are duty bound to do that  having “poor” navigational skills ( society has assume us, females, to have ) as an excuse. Society after all is less suspicious on questioning females than they are of males.
4] Photo bums. Just when you’ve found a good backdrop, nicely framed, and you’re ready for the shot, they would not miss a chance to ruin it. Be cool with that. Those photos actually leaves you laughing when you’re going through the images from the whole trip.

5] To know them better. It is true when they say that the best way to know a person is to travel with them. There, I’ve said it. 

But despite all the roughing up, expect that you will still be the lady asked to wait at the sides when they look for other means for the travel. And even when my stubborn streak won on commuting versus taking a private transport, they were cool enough to let me have my stubborn way. It is good knowing that you have someone to trust with your safety, and life, other than yourself. Traveling with the guys is having to know that some guys never shake off the boys in them — but are gentlemen still. 
P.S. You travel with people whose thoughts resonates your own. 
P.P.S. You just have to be quick to be the first one to virtually drop a bomb, or better yet an asteroid on them. Ahahahahahahaha.. Yes. I was not quick as a fox to scurry off Peter’s evil intentions then.
P.P.P.S. I found the coffee buddies I can depend on, whatever time of the day is. These are gems in a pile of rubble. I love them down to the very netrophils in their bodies. 
You might like to read DUMAGUETE CITY related posts here:
A good holiday is one that is spent among people
whose notions of time are vaguer than yours.” -J. B. Priestley 

EN ROUTE DUMAGUETE | Daylight on the Road

“DAY 1 | Transit day.” says the badly scribbled writing on my travel journal. I was traveling with the guys of whom I’ve known for 8 years or so. Unfortunately, the females we were suppose to be traveling with had other appointments they can not get out of. So of broad shoulders, and deep voices, I was the odd one out.
I was moving in turtle speed that would only happen when I’ve just woken up. I made it before 6AM. It was still dark, and cold when we met at Iligan City North Bound Bus Terminal, and I still had clouds above my head that a colder bath could not wash off. Yes, I tried all remedies to kick the flu off, especially when  we decided to take the longer route to Dumaguete City.

It was a good that the guys collectively decided to take a straight bus ride from Iligan City to Dapitan City. I would have wanted  it differently. When traveling on long land trips, it is good to get a fare only for the next city up ahead, and transfer to another bus to get to the next city, than riding a straight bus ride from point of origin to the final destination. It will actually save you 15-30 minutes per stop — just the exact time of bus intervals. But should you do that, make sure you take the next bus traveling 15-30 mins ahead of the one you rode on. It is a synchronized dance that you will master when you’re traveling in time constraint, or on rush travel seasons.Then again, what was the rush, and it is bad when you’re traveling with a flu, and being all too groggy with medications. Maybe if it was just me, I would have cheated, and cancelled the trip a day later, or took another route instead. But hey, I was one of the guys, and I was looking forward to traveling with them.
09:00-ish AM
By the time we got to Mukas, the overcast was threatening. Midway on the ferry ride, rain fell. And it has been a long time since I saw Ozamis drown in grey. I’ve always traveled this way on sunny days, that it was new to me to see it so gloomy, and still. The ferries here travel in 15 minutes interval. Three or maybe two of them are in good operational state but time, and use shows that it needs a major face lift or should long have been retired. I romanticize on how old transports travel day after day, seeing different passengers of different reasons to be on the road — how colorful their stories would be if were told.
09:00-ish AM
We had breakfast at the bus terminal at Ozamis City, and made sure to keep the bus driver, and conductor close by. I’m no picky eater, but unfortunately my digestive system is. I would rather starve, than get stomach flu on the road. Both has not happened though. Eating where the bus drivers usually eats, on instances like these, is the safer way to go at it. We had to eat twice as fast as we normally would. We would not want to be left behind. I just have to say those driver do eat pretty fast.
Lost track of time.
The rest of the bus ride to Dapitan City was a blur. All I could remember was I slept, mumbled something incoherent as an apology when I startled everyone on the bus when my water bottle fell from my grasp. The raindrops pounding on the bus roof and the trickles of rain water on the windows lured me back to sleep again — only to be awaken on different bus stops. After 8 hours more, or less on the road, we saw the junction, and our stop. Dapitan City. I met someone who gave me a new perspective on, more than just, travel there. 
Lunch was late for us. There was a local foodhouse by the bus stop. We did not take too long there, and went on to secure us tickets for Dapitan – Dumaguete ferry. We got a pedicab, and was hoping to get there early, and go back to visit some few spots in Dapitan. The distance from the port to must-see spots was a long ride than what was expected. Maybe it was too soon to see Dapitan City again, some other time maybe, I thought as we decided to scratch that plan out. Even gloomy days brings the grey in on traveling. Not a happy soul was an earshot away when we found ourselves waiting at Dapitan’s Port passengers terminal like the rest of them weary travelers. Not more than an hour, we were boarding.

The weather kinda cleared up, and I was feeling a bit well despite the fluffy, and red nose I had from all the sneezing. I can tell someone was smiling down at us, and wanted to show Dapitan off even if it was a glimpse of the port and the stilt houses near the waters, and those up on high grounds. Dapitan has always been humbling, more than as charming as I found it.

Near 5:00PM
In the remaining minutes sunlight fought it’s way behind the clouds, and everything seemed to be bathe in white unadulterated light. Pockets of reflected light gleams on both smooth, and rough surfaces damp from the rain. Before nightfall loomed over, the last glimpse I saw of Dapitan City may have gloomy, but it was calm.
Some 4 hours and more minutes after.
It was already dark, and the boulevard stretch was a sight that welcomed us to Dumaguete City. Except for the dancing reflected lights on the waters surface, Dumaguete was sleeping except for a few others still up. Our arrival was a quick pick up by a friend. Her family was nice enough to accommodate us for the night, even if we did not want to trouble them. She would not accept a “no, thank you” answer. Too tired to fight back, and too welcomed after a long transit, we left our things at our hosts home, and went out for a late dinner with friends who were happy to be off duty that night. I can barely keep up. Dumaguete, and reunions — finally. 

You might like to read DUMAGUETE CITY related posts here:
En Route Dumaguete | Daylight on the Road
Confessions | Traveling With the Boys — COMING UP! =P

DUMAGUETE CITY | How To Get There via Iligan – Dapitan City Route

First travel of 2013, and the first travel with college friends minus field trip waivers, sampling paraphernalia,  and our professors years after going on our own paths. It was going to be a waiting reunion on a Thursday morning, and I was still under the impression of just a trip downtown to get a box of cereals instead of a land trip of 7-8 hours, and a ferry ride of 4. What was I thinking? Probably, like what I usually think when a planned travel comes up. Not much but go with where the yellow brick road takes me. Oh, I’m still in the slow careless carefree travel phase. Less planning, more on on-location decisions. But traveling this time with the guys who had it all planned out, I found myself happily going along with them.

Blame it on monthly girl thing, and a terrible case of the flu, but I was still not backing down to what looked like something I would regret. I was under hormonal changes, and the viral attack was added torture. Somehow, I still managed to pack my backpack and three guys were probably waiting for me at the terminal, so I collected whatever remaining wits, and decent social behaviors I had and joined them. The females can relate. But male readers, trust me when I say, traveling in that condition is trying to contain trouble in a bottle. And patience is a hiding virtue during these days of the month. So here’s how the travel for a wedding we needed to attend to started. From home, which is Iligan City, we traveled to Dumaguete via Dapitan City —- we, obviously, took the longer route.

Directions, and How to Get There Details for Iligan City – Dumaguete City via Dapitan City:
*** Fares may change depending on approved rates
**POST DATE : February 2013

1] From Iligan City – Ozamis City – Oroquieta City – Dapitan City
::: Bus or Private Vehicle
::: Barge
Travel Time: 7 – 8H
Fares: 338 PhP
Iligan City – Dapitan City Bus Fare: 310 PhP
Mukas Terminal Fee: 3PhP
Mukas – Ozamis Fare: 25PhP
—– Check out the updated Iligan – Dipolog route HERE
—– Dapitan City is only  20 – 30 minutes shorter in land travel time.

2] Stop at the Junction Polo – Dapitan National Road, Dapitan City
—– You won’t miss that, there are few large signage for Rizal Shrine
—– Better yet, sit nearest to the driver, and inform him ahead of time where you want to be dropped off.

3] Junction Polo Daptian National Road –  Dapitan Port Area
::: Pedicab or Private Vehicle
Travel Time: ~ 10 mins
Fare: 20PhP

4] Dapitan City – Dumaguete City
::: Ferry
Travel Time: 4H
Terminal Fee: 11PhP
Fare: 320 PhP


+ On this travel, we took the same route as I, and some other travel buddies for Dipolog City last June 2012. However, there are slight differences here: 
1] Dapitan City is 20 – 30 minutes short on travel time.
2] For this trip, we decided to take a straight bus ride from Iligan City – Dapitan City, hence the absence of intermittent bus time travel, and a single bus fare.
+ Research on the Ferry Schedules for Dapitan – Dumaguete trips. The reason why we had this route was there was because a Cagayan de Oro – Dumaguete, which was a straight, and shorter route, would fit in the time table we had. There were no available ferry schedule on a mid-week. Thus — the longer route taken instead.

You might like to read DUMAGUETE CITY related posts here:
En Route Dumaguete | Daylight on the Road
Confessions | Traveling With the Boys

GUEST POST | Top 3 Majorca Family Holiday Resorts

Cheap Majorca holidays are often the saving grace when it comes to breaks abroad with the brood on a budget. As such a versatile island, Majorca offers a variation of resorts, all able to suit different family preferences.

Keeping costs low is the key, so browsing online at discounted holiday websites will ensure that you pay the lowest price possible for your time in the sun. Direct Holidays deals include breaks from the most loved and trusted holiday companies in the UK, meaning you get top quality service for a fraction of the price.

But where to go? The choice of tourists resorts in Majorca is phenomenal, however there are a number specifically suited to travellers with children of all ages.

1. Palma Nova

The sister town of Magaluf, Palma Nova is located conveniently close the attractions and amenities of the clubbing capital of Majorca, with little late night disturbance. This gives families seeking an active break a handy base for exploring the entertainment in the area, including waterparks, sea life centres, pirate dinner shows and more.
2. Alcudia
To the north of Majorca, Alcudia is a middle of the road resort for parents hoping to move away from the vibrancy of Palma Nova, while maintaining a good touch of activity. The shorelines here are particularly safe for youngsters. Days out include visits to the local wetland nature reserve, a freaky themed maze, and a waterpark.
3. Ca’n Picafort
At the other end of the spectrum entirely, Ca’n Picafort is a relaxing base for your break, with a perfectly picturesque horseshoe shaped bay. This idyllic fishing village makes for a superb sojourn for families with babies, tots and toddlers, looking to get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy some quality time together.
Let the family adventure begin! Start your summer holiday countdown by booking your budget break online today.

DIPOLOG CITY | Some Solid, Hard, Unmoving Sculpted Men

I got you there, didn’t I? Let me introduce you to the men you will, and must meet while at Dipolog City. I met them, unfortunately, only by passing. My heart was robbed of time to fall in, uhm, chocolates with them.  But I’m pretty sure you will like these guys, if you knew who they are, and their contribution to this city. With time and their surroundings changing around them, these men stands unmoving in their places being witnesses of the everyday life of it’s locals. 
Dipolog’s Three Prominent Pioneers Statue
Standing in front of the City Hall, the three prominent figures of seemingly men of different stature, and professions in life stands in the busy city street corner. Meet the first municipal mayor of Dipolog, first Filipino Diocesan Priest in Mindanao, and the farmer who introduce a rice planting system that paved the agricultural system of the country today.

  • Hon. Pascual T. Martinez was appointed by Gen. John J. Pershing, Governor of the Department of Mindanao as the First Municipal Mayor of Dipolog City. He was later elected Municipal Mayor in 1918 following the First General Election of Dipolog and served until 1921.
  • Rev. Fr. Nicasio Y. Patagan was the First Filipino Diocesan Priest of Mindanao. Appointed Parish Priest of Dipolog in May 1940 and served the office until 1967.
  • Eugenio Magarte was a farmer for 25 years who introduced the Margate System of Planting Rice, authored the book “Humay”, 100 Kabanes Matag Hektarya.” And was declared by Free Press as “Man of the Year” in 1954, and served as Technical Assistant in the field of Agriculture during the Administration of Presidents Ramon Magsaysay and Carlos P. Garcia.

Pagsalabuk Center / Rotonda
An abstract, and classical design that now interprets Dipolog City today is the statue that represents the Tri-people of Mindanao — Muslims, Christians, and Subanen, stands at a rotonda where the busy pedestrians  and motorists passes by. It was said that the people of Dipolog, like this city is diverse, yet united in it’s vision, and goals. It seeks peace, progress, and just, and human society for it’s local citizens.  The figure stands 4.50 meters in height and is not made of bronze or brass as you may think it is at first sight. It is however, made of resin that is both durable, and light, and would cost less than any bronze or brass would.

The symbolic people of Dipolog raises a bowl  upwards to the heavens as a gesture of thanksgiving for generous graces, and blessings, bountiful harvest, sustained peace, and prosperity that is interpreted with the water that cascades profusely from the bowl to the ground. Thus also being called as the Fountain of Blessings. Being the Gateway to Western Mindanao, it indeed is the perfect fit of a symbol to be seen in a part of the country where diversity is obvious, and welcome.
Besides the influence of Philippine’s National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal on Dipolog, seen mostly on it’s architectural designs, these men whose presence has greatly added to the rich history of this city, and the modern interpretation of the people of Dipolog now stands in the streets of this interesting city. Dipolog never ran out of something to keep any visitor entertained.

+ The Three Prominent Pioneer’s Statue can be visited when you visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, and after the walking tour, you can also take a break from all the heat, and get yourselves some refreshments at Julie’s.
+ This Pagsalabuk Circle is best seen both during daylight and at night. I like it more during nighttime when the lights play on it’s surfaces. But it is also beautiful in daylight, where you can see the details of the sculpture.

Dipolog’s Three Prominent Pioneers StatueRizal Ave. Cor. Herrera St., Dipolog City
Coordinates: 8.586368,123.344547
Map Location: HERE
Pagsalabuk Center / Rotonda
Estaka – Turno Road Junction, Dipolog City
Coordinates: 8.583695,123.350523
Map Location: HERE

You might like to read the rest of the Dipolog Series posts:

CEBU CITY | East, West Cafe

An inspiration from Salman Rushie short series books, East West Cafe was named to reflect how the Filipino food is a comfortable hodgepodge of anything from Eastern to Western cuisines. East, West Cafe is clean line, pale interior anchored by dark colored tables and chairs. Large portraits, and lines of positive words is a splash of color on the large wall space.
Owner Hendri Go shared how he manages the cafe, and still gets to do what he loves doing — meeting, and making new friends over food, or good conversations, theaters, and plays, and of traveling. Sinulog Festival 2013 was coming that weekend, and I was travelling with the boys for a friends wedding event. The good thing was our short trip extended to two weeks. The guys, and I decided to extend our trip to Cebu City, and spent the weekend in festivities. When travel blogger Doi sent a message for a Pre-Sinulog Pinoy Travel Bloggers meet – up at East, West, it was a good thing that we extended our trip then. It is always nice to meet the people, and build connections during travels.
Crab Stick Salad 
The Crab Stick Salad was nice, and light to the taste. I like how the pasta was just al dente , and not feel mushy with all the dressing in the salad. I also like how the dressing was light, and complimented with the mango. Ofcourse the mango taste brings out the crab meat which was of healthy serving on the plate.
Mango Citrus Chicken and Sausage Pasta. 
Red Velvet Crepe 
Mango Sushi 
Crepes are a thing at East, West Cafe. One should order these light desserts to not just close one’s appetite but because East, west has the best crepes in town. And oh! My favorites would be Red Velvet Crepe, and Mango Sushi Crepe!
I met familiar faces I only see, and interact with online, and chanced on talking with some others who loves travel as much as I do. It only takes one commonality to bring strangers together. That night, we were blessed enough to have two: travel and good food.

FESTIVALS | Colorful Cebu’s Sinulog Festival 2013

It was my first time to experience Sinulog Festival even if I’ve frequented Cebu City. Maybe because I am not much of a crowd person that I would rather miss one of the Philippine’s most color festival celebration. Sinulog Festival is a nine day celebration that culminates on the last day of streetdancing — Grand Parade, that has now become a tourist attraction, and of devotees.

This is only a fraction of what the massive crowd is waiting for the streetdancers, as the would dance to the beat of the drums, and the thumping of the dancers feet.
Sinulog is a annual festival held every 3rd Sunday of January at Cebu City. Sinulog festival is also celbrated in various regions of the Philippines, but it is at Cebu City where the festival is of big, and gregarious proportion. The festival is in honor, and a full blast of music, dancing, and merriment for the a celebration for the feast of Santo Niño.
The main highlight is the streetdancing in colorful costumes. Sinulog comes from the word sulog, “like water current movement”, as the dancers move backward, and forward to dance to the rhythm of drums, trumpets, gongs, and while the chanting of “Viva Señor” unifies both dancers, and speculators.

I like festivals but someone who does not like crowds too much — this was TOO MUCH. Good thing that I am easily swayed with beats of the drums, and musics, as I found myself dancing in the streets, and taking in as much as I could with my first Sinulog Festival experience.

It was a good thing I met travel bloggers Dylan, Brenna, and Doi who I went along with during the festivies. You can not go wrong partying in the streets as long as you’re with cool people out for a good time too. Unfortunately, I had to bid them early as I needed to get back to my college friends pad to spend some time with them. 

Would you find me again on a day of busy, and festive crowded streets of Cebu City during Sinulog Festival? Heck, yeah! I love how people not only came to witness the festivities, but also came with party, and happy spirits!
You might like to read some of CEBU CITY, and / or FESTIVALS posts here.

DIPOLOG CITY | Julie’s Halo – Halo & Refreshments

If there is one memory I am fond of was when our Papa took us out one hot, and humid afternoon for some Halo-Halo of monstrous proportion. I was a kid then. The serving size was too much, but dad thought being a kid was an advantage. It was. I finished that big bowl of Halo – Halo, and I’ve been hooked on them ever since. During the ZaNorte trip was no different. The soonest, Mr. Tan mentioned the best halo – halo in town was at Julie’s, it did not fell on deaf ears.

Pretty much after a good walk around town, and stopping by the Tourism Office for a courtesy call, we took to the direction given to us. “Infront of the City Hall”, how was that for direction —- and location, I might add! Needless to say, someone reminded our hosts so we should stop by before going to the next itinerary for the day. How was I to argue? That’s halo – halo we’re talking about. Julie’s Halo – Halo & Refreshments has been around since 1956. It’s one of the old food establishments in the city, and everyone would know the place all to well. It was formerly known as Lennies and they serve Filipino snacks, and refreshments like Mais Con Hielo, Minatamis na Saging, Leche Con Hielo, and Arroz Caldo to name a few.

Halo – Halo is a popular Filipino dessert that is a mixed of shaved ice, evaporated milk, with sweet beans, and some fruits. The locals say that this refreshing dessert at Julie’s has not changed after decades even when this city has. Now there’s some comfort at that. True enough Julie’s Halo – Halo was not a disappointment , and it lived up to what everyone else was saying. I like how it was generous of beans that mellows the sweetness of the fruits, milk, and the leche flan with it’s starchy taste. The ube paste was sweet and is distinctively ube in taste unlike those ube paste I’ve tasted that are a bit bland. And instead of the typical ube or any flavored ice cream, they top this dessert off with a decent serving size of leche flan that added to the sweetnes, and creamy taste to the halo halo. And must I say the leche flan was good! It has a healthy bright yellow color and it melts right in your mouth when you eat it. *Mouth-watering at even the thought of it right now*

Much as the decades old recipe of halo – halo, the little snack bar also bears it’s age with it’s simple bare, but shiny cement floor with crack, and chipped holes on it’s surface, clean, and newly painted walls, and table and seats with cravings at the sides that you rarely see in furniture theses days. Julie’s Halo – Halo is definitely one place I’d visit, and stop by if I’m in town, and you should too. It’s not just a place for locals, halo – halo lovers, but I believe any traveler, or visitor is bound to like it here. I would like to say, “Go and eat some cake” but “have some halo – halo” instead is more fitting. *grins* Nothing broken, with the stars as witnesses, that a good halo – halo can not fix. I do not know why that is so. I just know.
+ The banana cake would, most probably, go well with strong black coffee. Unfortunately they do not serve brewed coffee here. If I have my way around it, I’d buy some, and get me some good coffee elsewhere. So if you could, how about trying that one out, if you’re one of those banana cake nutcase like moi! *grins*
+ The snack bar is located fronting the City Mayor’s Office, and right beside United Church of Christ Phils. (UCCP), you will easily find it. You can top our walk tour around the city with some cool refreshments there. 

Julie’s Halo – Halo & Refreshments
Rizal Ave., Dipolog City
s: 8.586278,123.34416
Location Map:  HERE

You might like to read the rest of the Dipolog Series posts:


Thus the public use of reason and freedom
 is nothing but a dessert, a sumptuous dessert.”

– Johann Georg Hamann