It’s a known fact that Filipinos everywhere in the world love to celebrate and get together. Just take a look at this long list of festivals in the Philippines. READ FULL STORY
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By Niki Yarte
BABALIK ka rin, Gary Valenciano’s anthem for Filipinos abroad, speaks volumes to a special segment of the diaspora: Retirees who have spent significant number of years away from the motherland. With more time and resources on their hands, they may now choose to heed the call of family and the familiar and retrace their steps back to the Philippines.
Re-establishing their life in the country also comes with the practical benefit of stretching the buying power of their monthly pension. Aside from cheaper cost of living, the Expanded Senior Citizens Act also gives eligible retirees discounts to a variety of services – from healthcare, transportation, and lodging to tourism and entertainment.
With these in mind, we’ve compiled a list of ten things retirees can do to maximize their time in the Philippines and even make up for lost time.
Retirees longing for the quiet retreat may not find it in cities as busy as Metro Manila. Hence, many choose to retire in places like Tagaytay, which was developed enough to provide access to quality healthcare and leisurely activities while maintaining its serene atmosphere. Retirement communities are also being developed in Laguna and Cavite that would give retirees access to healthcare and leisure within the villages themselves. Beachfront properties in Batangas, Zambales, Ilocos, and Cebu are also popular with retirees.
Open a Small Business
Retirees can open small business like bake shops, laundry shops, and even Internet cafes right in their own homes to serve their communities. Franchising opportunities like food carts are also abundant. The popular Smokey’s Hotdog start at about P275,000 initial capital with the bulk of the expense going to the cart itself, which is payable in 24-month installments. With franchises starting at about P600,000, generic drugstores like the Generics Pharmacy and Generika Drugstore have also become popular. Groups like the Philippine Franchise Association can help retirees sift through viable options.
Take Up Farming
While any yard with enough soil and access to sunlight will do, retirees with a little more financial resources to spare may want to consider investing in properties like those offered by the Ponderosa Leisure Farms in Silang, Cavite – a gated community and resort catering to green thumbs. Avid enthusiasts may also wish to contact interest groups like The Philippine Orchid Society, the Philippine Bonsai Society Inc., and the Philippine Horticulture Society, many members of which are retirees themselves, and join their activities like trade fairs and workshops.
Be a Hobbyist Or Collector
Whether starting anew or revisiting an old hobby or collection, the Philippines has tons to offer enthusiasts of varying interests. From spectacular landscapes to colorful festivals, photographers and painters will always have fantastic subjects to capture. Depending on where they choose to stay, retirees may also engage in local crafts like pottery-making in Ilocos and embroidery in Taal. Retirees can pursue their life-long obsessions like what retired businesswoman Gina Lacuna did with her Puzzle Mansion. The popular Tagaytay tourist spot features a collection of more than 1000 puzzles assembled in a span of 30 years.
Immerse in the Arts
Retirees who have a penchant for ballet, theater, opera, and the like are in for a treat because local promoters are aggressive in bringing globally renowned productions like the The Phantom of the Opera to the country. These shows normally run at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, which also hosts a bevy of local productions. In the art and history front, the Ayala Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Manila continue to preserve and exhibit the country’s rich heritage. Taguig’s Mind Museum also hosts internationally touring exhibits, most recently the Da Vinci exhibit.
Get Involved With Causes
Using their skills to serve their communities, health professionals remain productive even after retirement. Dr. Remedios Cipriano-Gammad and medical technologist Mrs. Clarita Cipriano-Fernandez best exemplify this. Formerly based in the US, the retired sisters have been giving free medical consultations to residents of Barangay Pook in Aklan every weekend for four years running. And there is no shortage of causes in the Philippines that retirees can volunteer for or contribute to – from environment to education and livelihood.
Adopt a Pet
Retirees with extra time and space on their hands may want to foster four-legged companions, especially rescued ones from groups like the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) or Compassion And Responsibility for Animals (CARA) Welfare Philippines. Both groups are continuously looking for homes for the neglected cats and dogs that they have been sheltering. They also provide veterinary services like vaccination and spaying/neutering prior to adoption.
Explore the Country
Nature adventures like diving and hiking are big in the Philippines but retirees can still experience terrific but less physically demanding tourist spots. For one thing, the entire coast line from Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte to Camiguin and beyond is full of beaches. Relaxing guided tours are also offered in historical landmarks like Vigan, Intramuros, and Corregidor. Animal lovers would also be pleased to discover some exotic wildlife in their vicinity like the whale sharks in Oslob, Cebu (a popular haven among retired expats). Elsewhere, there’s the Philippine Eagle in Davao and the tarsiers in Bohol.
Catch Up On TV and Movies
While TFC and PinoyTV made sure that overseas Filipinos never missed on local TV, retirees in the Philippines who dreamed of spending their days being couch potatoes now have another channel to check out: TV5, which is currently airing shows starring Sharon Cuneta and Nora Aunor. Basketball buffs can also catch the PBA games on IBC-13. Local cinema is also teeming with offerings from major studios like Star Cinema and Viva Films.
Retirees who choose to stay in the province also have the added bonus of exposure to generally fresher air. Combined with having less stress and more time to rest, eating fresh organically farmed fruits and vegetables, and doing simple exercises like biking, running, or jogging, retirees can finally achieve that healthier lifestyle they have been striving for. Those with access to the beach or pools can even make swimming a part of their daily routine.
The perfect Christmas gift is always a nice vacation with family and friends. Since we also have to give dozens of godchildren gifts, we sometimes lack the funds to travel to expensive places. So here’s a list of the more affordable places to visit for the long Christmas to New Year break. READ FULL STORY
By Ana Maria Villanueva-Lykes
You’ve fallen in love with her beautiful chaos, drowned in her swirl of colors. There is no one quite like her. You’ve been away for so long, yet you still hear the echo of her voice. It’s a cacophony of sounds- the honking of colorful jeepneys, the cry of the ballot vendor, calling for your return. And so you go back, seeking out her smells, the intoxicating scent of sampaguita, the mouth-watering aroma of street food fare. On your reunion, go on a full day date with her and re experience her splendor. An hour or two is not enough. Rekindle the spark with Manila with this sunrise to sunset itinerary:
You’ve lived on cereal for so long; it’s time to enjoy breakfast the way you used to with large helpings of fried rice, eggs, and chorizo. Dulcinea has some of the best Filipino breakfast favorites including chorizo bilbao, chorizo Pamplona and jamon serrano sprinkled with a generous helping of tradition. Their famous Spanish style Churros Con Chocolate will give you the sugar buzz that you need to start off your Manila tour.
Dulcinea has ten branches all over the city, but it’s best to have your breakfast at Greenbelt 1 in Makati where you’ll be close to your next stop. If you have the craving for freshly baked puto bumbong or bibingka, head over to Via Mare or to the Manila Peninsula.
9:00 Historical tour
Start your day quietly at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, a sprawling green 152-acre plateau at the Global City Taguig, a short scenic ride from Makati. The cemetery contains the largest number of graves of American heroes from World War II. White washed headstones stand in a uniform circular pattern, reminiscent of how these soldiers used to stand in attention. Around these sentinels are a lush variety of tropical trees and shrubberies that offer a quiet sanctuary in the middle of a concrete jungle. Outside is a spectacular view of the Laguna de Bay and neighbouring mountains. Close by is the Cemetery of Heroes where our own heroes and martyrs are laid to rest.
It won’t be a tour without the shopping, and Pinoys are known for cheap retailing. From Taguig, take the C5 road to Tiendesitas in Pasig City. Tiendesitas offers a new shopping experience, showcasing the best Philippine products from art, antiques, furniture, pets, plants, to novelty items, souvenirs, native delicacies, and fashion. More than 450 traders sell their wares under Maranao inspired pavilions adorned with cogon grass, old kalesa wheels, and duyans.
Before you blow all your hard-earned dollars on antique jars, head back to Taguig for lunch at Serendra Piazza. Serendra at Bonifacio Global City is a two level indoor and outdoor diner’s paradise. If you’re missing lola’s dishes, Conti’s or Abe’s is a great choice.
Head over to old Manila, to trace your roots in Intramuros. Within the walled city are numerous places of interest that harks back to the 16th century Spanish colonial period. The San Agustin Church is the oldest church in the country. The Trompe-l’œil painted ceiling, the ornately carved massive door, the choir loft with 17th century molave seats, and the courtyard make the San Agustin Church a worthy stop. Beside the Church is the museum, home to countless church artifacts, statues, paintings with gold niches from the 17th century, and tombs of Spanish conquistadors like Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Juan de Salcedo.
Barbara’s across the museum has a little courtyard where you can cool off and share a slice of decadent chocolate cake with caramel sauce. Upstairs is the dining hall that takes you back to the 17th century with its lavish chandeliers and ornately bordered mirrors, and traditional Filipino and Spanish cuisine.
If you prefer the oriental delicacies, head to Binondo for some Chinese buns and hopia. Be careful because you can get lost in Chinatown, allured by the good luck charms, exotic ingredients, and jewelry in shops and stalls along the streets.
3:30 Spa treatment
Rejuvenate at the Wensha Spa Center near the World Trade Center for a very affordable body massage and treatment. Be warned though, the center allows you to sleep over, so there might be a good chance you’ll doze and miss the rest of your Manila date.
5:45 Dinner cruise
Head over to the Manila Baywalk for the world renowned Manila Bay sunset. The water reflects the fusion of city lights and the burst of colors in the sky. After the dazzling display, take a moment to reflect at the Malate Church, just across Roxas Boulevard, famous for its Baroque style and history.
Later, take a walk towards the Harbor Square in the CCP Complex for the Spirit of Manila Prestige Cruise. Experience Manila from afar, on a moving vantage point while dining al fresco over a full course gourmet meal.
Once back on land, rediscover just how Manila loves to party. At the Remedios Circle are bars with character and life that offer a variety of entertainment options from live bands to ballroom dancing. In quiet cafes, the artsy spirits toast to poetry and food art.
Intoxicated with the festive air and the bottles of wine and spirits, wind down at Cafe Adriatico, dubbed as “the first true Filipino café,” by the late food connoisseur Doreen Fernandez. Indulge on a midnight snack of Salpicao and Chocolate Eh.
1:30 Second wind
If the rich dose of chocolate gives you a second wind, take a ride back to Greenbelt 3, Makati at Absinthe for a glass of the anise-flavored “Green Fairy” while dancing to the beats of DJs imported from all over the world.
Not quite done yet? Put on your dancing shoes and dance with Latin flair or snack on some tapas at the Cafe Havanna in Greenbelt 3.
4:30 Turning in
Before the sun catches you, head over to the Horizon Club of the Makati Shangri-la where you can finally rest your weary head in a pillow of luxury and dream of your love affair with the city that will always be in your heart.
(The author maintains a travel blog – http://anaviajera.com.)
By KC M. Abalos
The recipe for the perfect wedding—warm weather, a lovely sunset, and really good food—where to find these?
According to a study by the Department of Tourism, within the period of 2007 and 2008, there was a 14% growth rate for foreign nationals choosing to get married here in the Philippines. And based on the increase of the total number of inbound visitors for January and February 2011, which reached 668,625 and showing a 17.88% growth compared to the arrivals for the same period in 2010, the industry of “destination weddings” becomes even more promising.
The popularity of destination weddings has risen globally, totally in keeping with the rise of travelling in general. There is a growing number of couples worldwide who wish to have a unique celebration of their union in some exotic destination. These, along with the number of young Filipino professionals who work abroad, fall in love, and who come home just to get married, make destination weddings a blossoming aspect of the travel industry that the Philippine government really has to take seriously.
The DOT is aware of the potential of this opportunity and has since been active in “assisting the private sector of the tourism industry in marketing tour packages and/or in collaborating with international travel companies for the promotion of the Philippines as a perfect wedding and romantic honeymoon destination in the Asia-Pacific.”
The DOT has taken steps in marketing various Philippine destinations as venues or locales for pre-nuptial shoots, wedding proper, reception, and honeymoon sites. Each purpose interconnected with each other but at the same time demands a different approach in terms of promotion and advertising. This is where the private sector comes in, meaning the travel and wedding industry has been vigilant in this regard.
The Philippine Tour Operators Association, the Philippine Travel Agencies Association and the Philippine Association of Wedding Planners all work together in ensuring that the Philippines enjoys its generous share of the market. With travel exhibits crossing over to wedding expos and vice versa, these industry organizations are making certain that the Philippines remains a viable option for couples who are searching for where they will hold their ideal wedding.
The DOT cites the Kasal Pilipinas as an example. Kasal Pilipinas is a registered business in San Francisco, USA, which held a wedding forum and exhibit in the area, making it possible for the Filipino community to keep in touch with the latest trends in the industry.
Wedding shows also abound. Handled by Themes and Motifs, the biggest is the Wedding Expo which is on its 18th year. This June 18 & 19, the Wedding Summit will also commence just in time to usher in the bridal month.
Engaged couples who are in the throes of panic due to overwhelming planning can be assured that their day will be perfect because they can easily choose and hire professional suppliers who can deliver the best services.
A note about the rise in professionalism in the Philippine wedding industry needs to be mentioned at this point. From events coordination to flower arranging, cake artistry to creative photo and video coverage, the staggering quantity of choices is insurance enough for quality services. Brides can now join online forums, compare prices, and discuss with other brides whom they will hire to get their money’s worth.
Planet Philippines lists down the top 10 reasons why you should marry in the Philippines. These are based on the unique and wonderful things that make the country stand out.
1. Fabulous food – With the Filipinos’ ability to absorb culinary tastes from far-off lands, engaged couples can choose to feed their guests with a wide array of flavors. From original Filipino dishes to food that is closer to your hearts and tummies, ask and it shall be sautéed, broiled, and delivered.
2. Bells a-ringing – With over thousands of beautiful churches (and not just Catholic ones, mind you), there is no other place in the world where the sacrament of matrimony is taken as seriously as here.
3. Beaches galore – Is it a beach, blanket, bingo beginning you’re wishing for? We have 7, 100 beautiful islands with all kinds of beaches—sandy or stony, white or black, even pink ones to choose from!
4. Flowery speech – A country known for its diverse variety of flora (and fauna), we warn that bees bothering your walk down the aisle is a strong possibility because of the amount of blossoms you can splurge on.
5. Animal love – Speaking of fauna, our four-footed or winged pals have always been welcome guests in a Filipino wedding. Doves kissing, butterflies flitting, and cows delivering a bride to her groom is not unheard of.
6. Honeymoon check! – Where else can you hold a wedding ceremony and then move on to your honeymoon that is only a banca or a tricycle ride away?
7. For a song – The Pinoy’s love for music is equal only for their love of food. Book a band or a DJ. Hire a string quartet or an entire choir. Ask them to sing you a kundiman (traditional Filipino love song) or an Iron Maiden cover and they will indulge.
8. Monique Lhuillier, et al – US-based top bridal gown designer Monique Lhuillier is Pinay and even if you can’t afford her, rest assured her other Filipino colleagues can sew, bead, and dress you to your liking.
9. Quirky indulgence – If your tastes tend to lean on the quirkier side, our islands are ready to pander to them. Hot air balloons, skydiving, zip lining, and other adventures are readily available.
10. Tradition to a T – Offer eggs for a sunny wedding day. Throw rice onto the newly married couple for luck. Make sure ceremonial candles don’t get blown out by the wind. This weird country has a hundred and one wedding traditions and beliefs that will ensure wedded bliss.
Thousands of church bells are ready to ring for anyone who wants to get married in the Philippines. From the windy hills of Tagaytay to the white sandy beaches of Boracay, the country’s varied topography would fit anyone’s idea of an exotic destination.
© 2014 Planet Philippines.
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