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Thursday, November 20, 2014

10 Top Must Visit Davao Tourist Attractions

Gay Aida Dumaguing - Thursday, November 20, 2014
10 Top Must Visit Davao Tourist Attractions Davao City Philippines

Last month, Exotic Philippines I was invited to come over to Davao Philippines to cover the BIMP EAGA & IMT 2014 event. I’ve extended my stay in Davao (thanks to ALU Hotel for helping me out with that) for a day to be able to have a quick tour, even just for a day.

At first, I thought there are just few destinations that we could visit in Davao though it’s a huge area. But then, I was wrong, a day to tour Davao is not enough and to fully enjoy it, I need at least 3 days to really cover the bests of it.

For you not to make the same mistake that I made, let me share with you Davao’s top tourist attractions, destinations that is a must visit. Please take note that these are my personal lists of tourist attractions that I wish to visit (because I wasn’t able to finish everything) or wish to revisit. Also, I did not arrange this by rank.

Pearl Farm Beach Resort

Davao’s Pearl Farm Beach Resort is one of the destinations in Davao that I wish to visit. Sadly, I wasn’t able to visit it but I really wish to come back and just experience the beautiful beach and the sands on my skin. Other than the beach, the resort also offers numerous activities like jet skiing, banana boating, fly boarding, kayaking, scuba diving, and more. Well, actually (for me) the beach and the view is enough reason for me to visit.

Samal Island

Samal Island is a ferry away from the city, it’s another tourist attraction that I wasn’t able to visit. We did plan to but then someone else invited us to meet someone and visit a good restaurant. It’s that place in Davao that you can get away from the city life.

Eden Park 

The Eden Park is one of the attractions that comes highly recommended to visit, but I didn’t know that it takes 2-3 hours to go to the place from the city and there’s a schedule for the tours. I was all really at around 11am but the lady from the event told us that the tour starts at 1PM, and that we must go immediately so we can make it in time. So, we decided to cancel the trip and decided to walk around the city instead.

Eden Park offers tour packages (with and without meals), and a number of activities like skycycle (biking in a line), skyriding, and they even have butterfly garden. But what people love most about the place is that you’ll be able to reconnect with nature again. Please take note though, there are no mobile signals here since it’s too far away from the city, they say you’ll be lucky if you’ll get one bar.

Apo Ni Lola 

Apo ni Lola is a durian candy factory, well they don’t just make candies but different varieties of durian actually. From ice cream, shake, and spread, they have it in their store.

Apo Ni Lola Davao City Philippines

Their marketing manager told us that they’re planning to expand soon around the country so people don’t have to go to Davao City just to get a taste of the best durian.

Orchids Farms

There are a number of orchid farms in Davao city, I only know two (2) but our tour guide from Davao Tours 4 Fun Travel told us a different orchid farm which sadly was not included in our afternoon tour. So I guess there are a lot for you to choose from, but really if you love orchids then go for it! I was supposed to buy an orchid for my Mama but because our time is not enough.

Jack’s Ridge

It’s one of the tourist attraction in Davao that I really love, I just love the view but they said it’s best during night time. All you can see then are city lights but because we visited the place in an afternoon, so I got this view.

Jacks Ridge Davao City Philippines

Still really good though. You may also like to go swimming there since they do have a pool, or dine in with friends at their restaurants, or sip a coffee (or durian coffee) while watching this amazing view. They also have a great place to have a wedding there, and I can totally imagine someone having their wedding there, it could be really nice.

Monfort Bat Sanctuary

We were personally invited by the owner Norma Monfort, 2011 Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Hero and Davao’s very own batgirl to join them in their NovemBAT feast for us to experience how it’s like to be with these awesome bats. But then, because we’re leaving before than, we can’t visit the place – but we’d love to one day.

Banana Beach

The Banana Beach is called “Banana” for a reason, I’m not sure if it’s because they also have a lot of bananas but they’re placed just right beside a Banana plantation. They offer differet types of tours, they have the river tours, forest, orchard, plantation, and twilight safari tour.

Comparing their beach to Samal Island, the Samal island is better and they offer similar activities to Samal too.


Most of the Filipinos love to buy pasalubong for family, friends, and relatives and if you want to buy local souvenirs then go ahead and head to Aldevinco! There are a lot of stores for you to choose from, if you buy a number of items don’t forget to haggle with the store owners.

Fruit Market

Fruit Market Davao City Philippines

Davao is not only blessed with Durian, but they’re also blessed and rich with Pomelo and Mangoestene. You can buy all of theme cheap at the fruit market where the Davao travel agency we have brought us, there are really a lot to choose from there and they’re really cheap compared here in Cebu.

That ends my top 10 list of Davao tourist attractions, I’ll try my best to share some of the destinations that I was able to visit in Davao Philippines.

Let me grab this opportunity to thank the Davao travel agency that provided us with the tour, Mrs. Marlene Jamila of Davao Tours 4 Fun Travel for personally accommodating us and of course, the lovely Ivy our tour guide. I highly recommend the travel agency, it's just like having a tour with your aunt, they're easy and fun to be with, and of course they're the most affordable in Davao.

Unit B, The Site
Mapa cor, Jacinto Extension, Davao City
Tel. No.: (082) 3024383 / 09258774111

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

5 Facts to Know Before Deciding to Swim with the Whale Sharks in Oslob

Gay Aida Dumaguing - Tuesday, November 18, 2014

So let’s talk about my experience in swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob Cebu. I’d like to talk about this on a separate post since I don’t want the other post to be too long for you to read. And of course, the first post about the whale sharks in Oslob are the details that you might want to know when you want to try it out for yourself.

Now, if you’re not sure if swimming with the whale sharks is for you, here are a couple of facts you might not know and you should know about before deciding to really go there.

They won’t eat you. When I was there swimming with the whalesharks, a tourist shouted “Kuya, please don’t let them eat me!”. No worries, as far as I know and can see they’re not interested with you. They’re being fed with the locals there and that’s why they go up and we can see them.

No touching. It is forbidden to touch the whale sharks in Oslob, but if you do DO IT intensionally then prepare to go to jail for at least 6 months.

The whale is the one who wants to get near me here. Not me. Not my fault.

No SPF50. Don’t apply anything on your skin, even the SPF50 lotion since the chemicals can do harm to them.

No drowning. I was so shocked myself, I mean, I’m fat, I’m heavy but I did not drown and can’t drown - it's not that I want to drown, it's just that "It's a Miracle!". I don’t know if it’s the water or what, but they literally have to push me down for me to take a photo with the whales. I was like, did I lose weight or something?

The guide pushed me down to take this shot but another whale showed up below me and hit my legs. when I got back up I told the guide that, "... the whale touched me, not the other way around..." LOL. I don't want to go to jail!

For limited time only. If you do decide and go for it, try the experience out. Then please be aware that the whale sharks are so busy (sleeping, maybe) that they’re only available from  9am to 12nn. They go down somewhere deep after that.

But then, let me leave you a message from a good friend of mine who’s a tour guide here in Cebu (and a walking history book of the Philippines) who does not support the whale sharks as a tourist destination. I asked him why he does not support this and why we should not, and his answer was;

It is not ecotourism.. but rather an exploitative tourism.
Provisioning (the act of feeding) alters the behavioral patterns of the whale sharks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

5 Steps and Tips for First Time Domestic Flyers in Mactan-Cebu International Airport

Gay Aida Dumaguing - Wednesday, November 12, 2014
5 Steps and Tips for First Time Domestic Flyers in Mactan-Cebu International Airport

I noticed that there are actually few sites that do have or share some steps and tips for first time flyers, they are usually generic ones too. So I decided that every time I get the chance to try out an airport, I’ll share with you guys here in Exotic Philippines blog the experience I have, along the steps for the specific airport.

Today, we have the Mactan-Cebu International Airport and that was when I was going to Davao Philippines for the BIMP-EAGA and IMT-GT Business Leaders’ Conference. So, I got the chance to take photos of every step but sadly, I wasn’t able to use my Canon DSLR for this since it’s too big to carry around and too obvious – people might think I’m weird. So, apologies if the photo quality is not that good since I just used my Samsung Galaxy Y Duos phone camera – hopefully I’ll be able to upgrade it soon to get better photos.

Anyway, here are a couple of steps that you’ll take till you’re on board on the plane along with some tips within the steps.

STEP #1: Domestic Entrance

The entrance for the international and domestic flights are different, so if you’re going to take a taxi to the airport, let the driver know to drop you at the domestic entrance of the airport.

* Make sure you’re at the airport at least 1 hour before the flight. It’s best if you’re already at the airport 2 hours before the scheduled flight.

STEP #2: Baggage Check

Once you enter the domestic entrance go straight, there’s a stairs there and on the side there’s a way for the ones with strollers or carts – the flat floor going up, what do you call that?

Anyway, enter another door and immediately you’ll see the baggage x-ray machine wherein you’ll place every single bag you have with you – yes even your shoulder bag.

STEP #3: Check in!

After having your bags go through the x-ray machine, go straight and you’ll see some counters for the airlines. As for me, my plane for the day is the Cebu Pacific Air, so look for my flight number and destination – which was 5J 597 for Davao.

Give your printed copy of your ticket so they can verify your spot, and then they’ll ask you to weigh your bags for check in (the ones you’ll not carry yourself on board).

They’ll then give you a paper wherein your gate number, seat number, and other flight details can be found.

Make sure you don’t lose this especially if you have some bags checked in since they usually stick the sticker of your bag tag’s details there. Put this somewhere accessible too on your bag or pocket since before boarding, they’ll ask for this.

* Hand carry bags are only a maximum of 7 kilos for Cebu Pacific Air.
* Print your copy of the ticket in advance. Make sure you put your printed ticket and boarding pass in your bag that is accessible.

STEP #4: Departure Lobby Baggage Check

Look for the departure lobby, which is on the left side of the Cebu Pacific Air check in desks. But before you enter to the departure lobby, they’ll ask for another bag check via the baggage x-ray machine.

They’ll be stricter this time around. There might also be guards that will examine every inch of you, and you need to remove everything metal on you. Put your hand carry bags too on the x-ray machine and phone on the basket provided.

* Don’t wear anything metallic. Even belts.
* Put your phone or gadgets on your bag so that you don’t have to remove everything metallic on you. I usually put my phone on my bag because I’m clumsy sometimes that I don’t notice my phone fell off. So I pass quickly to their body check.

STEP #5: Find Your Gate

Now, once you’re in the departure area there are a lot of food stalls and souvenir stores there. Hold on to yourself! Don’t buy anything yet if you’re hungry or find some items really cute that you want to buy it.

Find your gate first! Especially if you’ve got few minutes left before the plane leaves, and usually the plane allows boarding about 30 minutes before they leave. Once you found your gate, the feel free to go back to the area where there are food and souvenirs available.

No worries, they also have the clock there and every announcement that you can hear near the gate can be heard at the area. But if you’re done eating and your departure time is about an hour away, go back to your gate and wait there since they usually starts boarding around that time.

I do hope these steps will help you on your first flight at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. If in any case I missed something, or wish to add an additional tip please do feel free to share it with us through leaving a comment below. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

An Overnight Stay ALU Hotel in Davao City

Gay Aida Dumaguing - Tuesday, November 04, 2014
An Overnight Stay ALU Hotel in Davao City

I just arrived from Davao and I’ve got a lot of stuffs to share with everyone here reading the Exotic Philippines blog, and I’m so happy that I was able to extend my stay in Davao City thanks to ALU Hotel.

Actually, I went to Davao in Mindanao Philippines because I was invited by MinDa to come over and attend the BIMP EAGA IMT 2014 for 4 days of succeeding events. With that, I find it hard to tour around Davao, and I really want to grab the opportunity to tour and get to know the place, and of course blog about it. And then, I found ALU Hotel.

The ALU Hotel

ALU (Associated Labor Unions) Hotel is located at the downtown area of Davao, about 4-5 blocks across away from Ateneo de Davao University, with 24 rooms and a function room that can accommodate as many as 80 people.

Some locals are not familiar with the area and the hotel. So I took the initiative to take the photo of other landmark you may possibly see first before the hotel, and that is the Chico de Cafe (where the white pick up car is parked.

The Hotel Lobby

When we arrived, the guard himself took the initiative to help us with our bags (which was nice because usually they don't). We were also greeted by their front desk staff with a smile, asked us for or IDs and have us sign a paper, and gave us the key to our room.

What I appreciate about this hotel is that it's simple and clean, and I just love it when they add some plants.

You can take the stairs, but most likely you'll prefer to use the elevator right? Their elevator is not big, I think 4-5 persons can fit in to the elevator but ideally the maximum of 4 is ideal to give some space to breathe.

The Rooms

They gave us a room with twin beds, their bed is quiet similar with what I have at home (bouncy!) but the foam may move when you move too much. But then, it's comfortable and doesn't hurt my back and I actually got a good night sleep when I slept on it.

We've stayed at Park Inn by Radisson in Davao City (which is just right at the back of SM Lanang Premier), and their rooms, bed, and pillows are huge so when we slept here one (1) pillow was not enough (since we have 4 big pillows at Park Inn). So we decided to request an additional pillow - and I actually sleep with 3 pillows.

Their comforter and pillow is soft, clean and smells good too. I actually fall asleep while watching the TV.

All their rooms have a cabinet, a table, chair, cable TV, air-condition, and landline phone. It's not that big but the space is enough for 2 people to move around and have luggage placed on the floor - we have about 8-10 bags on the floor.

The Comfort Room

Again, their comfort room is not that huge but it's good and comfortable enough to do the deed. It's clean, smells okay, and what I appreciate about it the most is that it has a fan that absorbs any smell out of the room, to avoid spreading it to the bedroom. Please note, Park Inn don't have that feature in their comfort rooms.

Their comfort rooms comes with a small bottle of shampoo (with their logo on it), a bath soap, a bucket and a tabo (dipper, scoop) - which I prefer to have in a bathroom.

No worries, if you prefer to use a shower, they do have a hot and cold shower - which is similar to what I have at home.

As for the water pressure, it's good and strong. It can full the bucket in few minutes.

The Hotel View

The hotel only have 24 rooms, and what I like about it is that they've placed all their rooms on the 4th and 5th floor (12 rooms per floor) so that you'll have a good view of the downtown area - and since just right in front of it is a house that may block your view if the rooms will start on the 2nd to 3rd floor.

We were at the 5th floor, so imagine if the rooms are at the 2nd or 3rd floor, your view will be that yellow house below. So most likely (if they'll have their rooms at the 2nd and 3rd floor) you'll request to be transferred to a higher room with a better view like this.

So bravo to the staff for thinking about the guests view from their rooms.

The Hotel Breakfast

The hotel do offer breakfast, we didn't see a restaurant at the lobby but I did saw a banner (at the opposite side of the front desk) that they're having a construction. I asked their staff if that's their restaurant in the future, and she said yes.

So as for the moment, their breakfasts are served in your rooms. Choose what type of of breakfast you wish to have, choose which viand you would like to have (select only one) and they'll deliver it right in your room, wrapped neatly to avoid any contact with dust - which was nice, they served it clean.

It's an average meal, it's not that many but it's enough to fill your tummy in the morning. And oh, it took more or less 20 minutes for them to deliver our breakfast, so make sure you order the meal before you're hungry.

The Hotel Staff

I like it that the guard took the initiative to help me with my bags, he didn't wait for someone (who's job is to help me with the bags) or wait for me to ask him to help me.

Their staff are welcoming, smiling, neat and clean. I just love people who provide a service with a smile - so that's a total plus for me.

But during our first day, I went out to the room to ask their staff if what are the other landmarks of the hotel since the travel agency in Davao that will tour us around is not familiar about the hotel. One of their staff (an older lady, probably around 30-40) somewhat raised her eye brows on me but I was asking the male staff since she seems not to be in a good mood.

Alu Hotel Room Rates

ALU hotel is one of the affordable hotels in Davao City which already includes a complementary breakfast from them. The hotel check-in time 2:00PM and check-out time is 12NN, but that time, we checked in around 1:00PM.

Anyway, here are their hotel rates:

Room Type
Standard P 1,500
Deluxe P 1,750
Junior Suite  P 2,350
Family Suite (3pax) P 2,600

Book ALU Hotel

Hotel Review

If you're looking for an affordable and decent place to stay in Davao that is near the downtown area or near in Ateneo (they have lots of ATM machines there), ALU hotel is a good place to stay. It's just right in front of a 24/7 convenient store and karenderia (a local and cheap restaurant), near to malls and markets.

If you're going to stay more than 3 days in Davao City, this hotel can offer you a good deal since they do have promos  for guests staying for more than 3 days and even months.

When we're sleeping, I didn't hear any car noise, but in the morning I can hear people talking in the hallway but it's not that loud - but if they do talk loud it can be heard in your room.

They do advertise that they have a WiFi in the hotel, but I tried connecting to it but I didn't get anything. Good thing we have an LTE with us.

But all in all, I was happy about our stay and satisfied with the service and room that they've provided us. Will I recommend the hotel? For budget travelers and for those who are not picky, yes I can totally recommend the hotel.

Disclaimer: ALU Hotel provided us a free overnight stay but still I have provided my honest review about the hotel.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Top 8 Products at the 2nd BIMP-EAGA and IMG-GT Trade Fair

Gay Aida Dumaguing - Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Top 8 Products at the 2nd BIMP-EAGA and IMG-GT Trade Fair

If you’re following me on Twitter, Instagram, or friends with me on Facebook you’ll surely get my updates on your news feed about my trip to Davao Philippines for the 2nd BIMP-EAGA and IMG-GT.

One of their side events is the BIMP-EAGA and IMG-GT Trade Fair wherein (trader) participants are free to present their products to the event visitors/attendees. Plus, I get the chance to partner up with locals in other countries (like the Philippines) who are interested and wants to distribute and sell their products in their country or area.

With that, I got the chance to meet different business owners and product creators from ASEAN countries, specifically Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, and of course the Philippines. The best thing about it is that I was able to try the products too! And buy the products that I love!

Let me share with you the top MY list of top products that I’ve found at the 2nd BIMP-EAGA and IMG-GT which are:

Vigory Chocolatier 

Vigory Chocolatier

THC Cholate Sdn Bhd
No. 101, Jalan Tun Tan Check Lock 75200, Melaka Malaysia

I’d say this is the top product that I’d say everyone must try and a must buy, especially if you’re a chocolate lover. I love chocolate and this chocolate is really delicious even when I’ve just tasted one small Milk Chocolate. I really wanted to buy more than one but due to some circumstances, they’re not allowed to sell their products on the first few days, but they were allowed on the last day.

Thanks to Mohd Faizullizam Zamani for reserving a bottle for me and my friend, and sending it to my friend’s room. I wish to have more but he said, there will be one soon here in the Philippines since they’ve finally found a distributor here in the Philippines.

I’d totally say that you should try this, it’s a chocolate, with nuts (e.g. hazel, almonds, etc.) and not that really sweet – and that’ why my Mama loves it so much.

Superpower Grape Seed 

Superpower Grape Seed

No. 3A, Ground Floor, Jalan Bukit Puteri 9/13, Bandar Puteri Jaya, Taipan Square, 0800 Sungai Petani, Kedah Malaysia

I’ve been including Welch’s grape juice since I started my workout since I found out the health benefits of grapes. When I saw the logo, the product, it interests me right away and I wish I could buy it for me and my Mama but my pocket money was not enough anymore – because I’ve done too much shopping at the trade fair.

Nurul  Ashirah, the Managing Director of the Super Power Grape Seed let me try the spray and sprayed it on one of my hands. Right away, I spread it and just few seconds my hands are really soft and moisturized – which is ideal for me, because I have eczema.

Philippine Bags

Philippine Bags

Sadly, I don’t have the contact info for these beautiful bags, I don’t even know the prize or who made it. It was totally just a display, so sadly I can only show this off to you.

Koko Minda 

Philippine Bags

Lot 28 & 30, Jalan EP9, Melaka Halal Hub, Serkam Darat, 77300 Merlimau, Melaka Malaysia

The word “Koko” itself can mean Chocolate, and again I love chocolates and this is a really good chocolate drink. Plus, it is not just your ordinary chocolate drink, it is a drink that helps to enhance intelligence, gives more energy to the body, and of course helps you to be healthier.

I wasn’t able to take home a box because the price is a bit higher than my budget but it’s really delicious and a must try.

Kopi Luwak Malino 

JL Sultan Hasanduddin No. 88 Malino Kab. Gowa Sulawesi Selatan, Indonesia

I actually just bought 2 sachets for my Mama since she’s the one who likes coffees like these, I love instant coffees and happy with the coffees at Bo’s, Starbucks, and Coffee Bean but my Mama said the coffee is really good that she rate it with 4 stars out of 5. A cup of coffee just needs a spoon of the coffee, if you wish to add a milk, sugar, or creamer then you can do so.

The coffee is a bit expensive though but then again, it’s worth it.

Thailand's Angus Beef Patty

Thailand's Angus Beef Patty

Who doesn’t love burgers? I didn’t get a flyer since it’s not in English but I did tried it myself. The patty alone is good, how much more if you’ll make it a burger. Right? They were not there on the last day, I didn’t get any flyer or card, so I don’t have any info that I can share with you guys. Sorry!

Master Chef Oat Cereal Drink

Master Chef Oat Cereal Drink

Lagenda Utara Sdn. Bhd.
No. 73, Ground Floor, Jalan Legend Height 08000 Sungal Petani Kedah Malaysia

I actually bought 2 packs (with 15 sachets per pack), because it’s affordable and delicious, and I think my nieces would love this and I would love to take one every day.
This drink have no cholesterol, with beta-glucan, protein, vitamin B1, and nutritious rock salt which is also good for digestion and very nutritious.

Muhibah Corn Oil

Muhibah Corn Oil

Muhibah Palm Products Sdn Bhd.
No. 1B, Jelan Sungai Burung X, 32/X, Bukit Rimau 40460 Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan Malaysia

I’m not really into cooking, but my Mama is. I asked her about the corn oil, and she said it’s expensive here in the Philippines and it’s a good product – and that if I could buy one I should have it.

These guys actually cooked a corn using their corn oil, and I’ve been eating a lot of corn since I transferred to a new home – because there’s a guy here who sells cooked corn. And I’d say the corn that they cooked using their corn oil was a lot more delicious and bring out its flavor more.

Again, please take note that these top products here are my personal choices, most of them are the ones who actually entertained me when I stopped in front of their cubicle (yes, some just don’t offer me something or they just look at me), some also gave a free taste or product testers so we could try out their products – which is good, so that if we love it we can partner up with them or buy their products.

Actually, there are other great products at the trade fair, like the clothes, bags from Indonesia, leather jackets and bags, beauty products (e..g whitening products, lotion, shampoo, conditioners), local delicacies or food in their countries, etc.

If you went to the 2nd BIMP-EAGA and IMG-GT trade fair and have your personal favorites, please do feel free to share it with us here on the blog.

Also, I’d like to grab this opportunity to give my big thanks to MinDa for inviting Exotic Philippines at the 2nd BIMP-EAGA and IMG-GT in Davao Philippines.

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