Saturday, July 26, 2014

Exotic Philippines – AsiaRooms.com Hotel Guru Reviewer of 2014

Exotic Philippines AsiaRooms Hotel Guru Reviewer of 2014

July 25, 2014 – I woke up early around 6AM and something tells me that I must turn on my laptop (which was easy, because I’m sleeping with it) and check my e-mail. With all the e-mails I get every day, one stand out and read it last. It was an e-mail from the travel community executive of AsiaRooms.com, telling me that I must read their announcement on the winners for AsiaRooms Blogger Awards 2014.

AsiaRooms Blogger Awards 2014 Winners

I was a bit confused at first since there’s no name on that page, but I read the whole thing and saw the link going to the other page wherein the official winners for each category of the AsiaRooms Blogger Awards 2014 can be found which are the following:

Rubbish Eat Rubbish Grow
Foodie Blog of the Year

David Burden
Travel Photographer of the Year

Brenden and Julie of Moons Around the World
Newcomer of the Year

Nicholas Buer
Travel Video of the Year

Gay Aida Dumaguing of Exotic Philippines
Hotel Review Guru

@littlemissexplorer
Instagram of the Year


I don’t know with you, but someone’s name is familiar just right there!

Yes, we won! Well, technically speaking I won but since you guys (seem to secretly) helped me, let me share this award to all of you guys!

The Prize!

It’s actually stated on the page where you guys voted for me, remember the post when I asked your support for the AsiaRooms Blogger Awards 2014 nominations? If you’ll scroll down a bit, you’ll be able to see more details all about it.

But, let me just say it, the prize is not only the recognition for my blog but also a 300 SGD hotel stay. All I have to do is let them know where and when, and they’ll book me a hotel!

The thing is...

The thing is, I don’t know where to go. I’ve been just roaming around Cebu Philippines these past years so I was thinking going abroad (maybe with a friend or family, I’m thinking of Singapore) or since my blog is all about the Philippines, I was thinking maybe Palawan or Boracay.

So, if you have any request on where I should go to check out the place, please do feel free to leave it as a comment below. I’m actually thinking twice of going outside Cebu since there will be airfare expenses and food (of course) plus the tour expenses. Well, unless there’s someone who’ll love to treat me or give me a free tour in exchange of a blog post and an advertising here on the blog.

Maybe if there are sponsors who wish to have me, the more sponsors in the area the better – and I’ll go there and spend my prize. But then again, let’s not rely on that since there are only few businesses who are really open on blog sponsorship.

Guys and gals, I know I’ve asked you a lot already but if you’re up to it do help me out and give me an idea or suggest a place where I should go. Just leave it as a comment down below!

Lastly, THANK YOU VERY MUCH AsiaRooms.com! I’ll surely share, tweet and post on Instagram my hotel stay.

Photo Credits: AsiaRoom.com

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Island Hopping in Mactan to Sulpa Island

Island Hopping in Mactan to Sulpa Island

A couple of weeks ago I was away for a day to “finally” to go for an island hopping just near here in the Mactan island. And one of our stops is the small but beautiful Sulpa island.

When we actually got to the island, we have no plans of staying there since there are bigger and better islands to spend more time at. But when we got there, there are already other tourists setting up for their picnic and some going for a swim and snorkeling. But basing from my view and my guide that it’s a great island to stay at, have a picnic, swim (especially if you’re with kids) but not ideal for snorkeling.

Going to the Sulpa Island

I rented a boat going to the islands, their rate is for the whole day so it totally depends on me on where to go first or what I want to have on my itinerary for the day. I’m not sure if there are other else where you can get a boat, but I was able to get my ride at Parola, in Mactan island which is just in the Cordova area.

You can take a vhire from SM going to Cordova, and take a tricycle or sikad (the passenger type for bicycles) going to the Parola area.

Sulpa Island Expenses

So here are my expenses for my trip going to Parola.

3,000 – Boat Rental Fee.
35 – Vhire going to Cordova (times 2)
20 – Sikad going to Parola (per person rate, times 2)
100 – Sulpa Island entrance fee
-----------
P3,210

The Sulpa Island 

First off, let me share with you my experience and photos I took during my visit to the Supla island which was really beautiful. Sadly, since I didn’t really put my feet on the sands of the Sulpa island, I don’t have any photos within the island but I think people there don’t spend time in the middle of the island but just on its sides. Anyway, it’s really small that you could totally finish touring around it through swimming in a couple of hours.

Island Hopping in Mactan

Guess what's there!? I'm coming Sulpa Island!

Island Hopping in Mactan

I'm so near! Surely, it's small that I could just swim around the island!

Island Hopping in Mactan

I'm getting more nearer! We're actually on the side now, I can see the sand! And look! There are other tourists already.

Island Hopping in Mactan

Ah... The sand! I just want to bury my feet on those sands. Sadly, since the island is actually privately owned, they will ask for a P100 fee for each person. 

Island Hopping in Mactan

 I can totally imagine myself taking a photo shoot there. Or maybe I'm imagining my crazy sister taking her shots there. But I can swim near there!

Island Hopping in Mactan

Here are the little boats that we call banka. I'm not sure who's riding this but I'm guessing it's the other vendors who sells stuff or the guests in the island.

Island Hopping in Mactan

Let's have another look of those sands. I think my niece will totally love it here. It's actually low tide when I was there, and that's why I'm quite sure that kids won't drown here. I've dipped my legs to see how deep it is it's just a bit above my knee.

There's another island I went to that day, so stay tune here at Exotic Philippines!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How to be a Host and Make Money at WithLocals.com?

How to be a Host and Make Money at WithLocals

Just few months ago, I’ve written an article all about this new travel website (which you can totally use) called WithLocals.com that is totally useful for travelers who wish to come and visit some countries in Asia – including the Philippines soon. Yes, they’ll be including the Philippines soon as one of the countries where you can get and book experiences with locals.

Luckily for me, I was also invited to apply for a job as a WithLocals Ambassador. I was accepted and yes, I am now one of their Ambassadors in the Philippines and I was actually the first Ambassador who they hired from the Philippines. Yes, they hired more than once since it’s a country and they wish to have more ambassador to verify their hosts from around the country – since they really want to start soon here in the country.

I’ll be encouraging everyone to join as a host (well, everyone from Asia), it’s a great way to make money online right at your home and be able to meet people from other countries.

How to Make Money at WithLocals.com?

You’ll be able to make money at the WithLocals website by offering your experiences on the website. Provide your rate for the experience and the website automatically add 20% of the total price to your price. Therefore, there will be no fee asked from you but it will be added to your price.

TIP: This is how it is computed: Final Price on the Website = Your Rate + 20%

What can You Post and Offer at WithLocals.com?

It is categorized to 3 types of experience (that’s what they call it) that you can offer at WithLocals.com and below are actually just my understanding about the website:

EAT Experience

WithLocals Eat Experience

Obviously, it’s when you offer a type of experience wherein the travelers will eat. But what’s unique and what your experience should be is that it should be at your lovely home. It’s called WithLocals is because the experiences should be with locals but professionals are very much welcome to join but the registered person should be the one who’ll entertain the guests.

You can prepare the food yourself, and serve it to your guests. Have a talk about histories of your country, place or even of your life.

TIP: Most of the time, the EAT experience that are priced around $20 have a lot of bookings. You can serve just few dishes, maybe 2 or 3 dishes – and remember, the $20 rate is per person. And, the EAT experience is more in demand compare to other activities.

TOUR Experience

WithLocals TOUR Experience

Obviously it’s when you want to tour the guests around your town and show them around. What’s great about a tour with a local is that they usually know the people around the town, and know the must visit or see places that travel agencies don’t know about.

TIP: A personal driver who can also do airport transfers and tour seems to be in demand the last months.

ACTIVITY Experience

WithLocals ACTIVITY Experience

The activity experience can be anything from cooking lessons, leather bag making, and workshops or even letting the guests experience the farm life.

How to be a Host at WithLocals.com?

It’s pretty simple actually. Just follow these four (4) easy steps:

Step #1: Sign Up. Sign up by simply going to the website or just click here to sign up. You may use your Facebook instead but remember what email you used for this (since it’s where we’ll contact you). Don’t forget to complete your profile. A lot of our guests do check the host profile and take a look at the photo – make sure you have a good and clear profile photo.

TIP: If you want to be assigned to me (as your Ambassador), fill out the form below too matching the details you provided on the website so that I’ll be able to notify our headquarters (HQ) that “you’re all mine!” – LOL. I can only be assigned to hosts in Cebu and neighboring islands (e.g. Bohol) but don’t worry, there are other Ambassadors that will be assigned to you that is a lot nearer than I am.

Step #2: Add an experience. Decide what you want to offer, if you want to offer an EAT, TOUR and/or ACTIVITY experience. Make sure you’re able to provide some details, don’t market yourself here, and market your experience. Don’t worry if you don’t have photos or can’t totally complete it, the Ambassador that will be assigned to you will be able to help you out.

Step #3: Get verified by the Ambassador. One of the functions of an Ambassador (in this case, me) is that I need to verify hosts like you. Verify who you are (if you’re real, not using someone else’s name), you’ll be able to deliver the experience (that’s why I need to experience, the experience itself) and take photos (so you really don’t need to worry about the photos).

TIP: Usually some hosts back out because the verification is not paid, and you must let the Ambassador experience the experience – can be costly. But think of it as an investment, remember that our website already exist, there are people using it and we can totally help you in marketing your experience by promoting it not only on our website but on our social media accounts.

Step #4: Get bookings. Once the Ambassador assigned to you is satisfied and thinks that you should be publish on the website, your experience will be published – but as of today since we haven’t launched yet in the Philippines, your experience will be publish (if you’re in the Philippines) once we’ve launched.

That’s how easy it is. Remember, if you want to meet me (and if you’re in Cebu or the neighboring islands) please make sure that you let me know through filling up the second form (that I created) so I could let the HQ know.

Photo Credits: WithLocals.com

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Chitang's Torta - The Famous Torta de Argao

Chitang's Torta The Famous Torta de Argao

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was visiting and touring around Argao Cebu, which is about 2 hours away from the city through taking a bus. One of the stores I dropped by in Argao, is of course the famous Chitang’s torta.

Chitang’s torta is like the commercialized version of torta in Argao, there are other torta makers there but Chitang’s torta is the store that really invests in marketing and promoting their product.

You won’t miss its store, though it’s about a 2 blocks away from the national highway. Just when you enter the town of Argao, you’ll start to see the commercial signs and the sign going to Chitang’s. Just tell the driver to make a stop near the pharmacy (I forgot if it was Rose or Mercury Drug) and you’re totally near from there. You can walk or take a tricycle from there.

There are a lot of ways going to the store, but if you're on the main highway side, then you'll be able to see this from afar.

Chitang's Torta de Argao the Making

But them, if you're coming from the other side, then you'll get a view of this side (below).

Chitang's Torta de Argao the Making
By the way, the yellow house just beside it is actually the house of the current owner.
Chitang's Torta de Argao the Making

When I actually arrived at the store, there these people there buying the Torta from them. They're that famous here. So I became really curious about the store now, and of course what their torta is like.

Chitang's Torta de Argao the Making

 When the people cleared out, this is my view. They also have a FREE wifi there, but that time it seems that their internet connection is really slow that my internet on my mobile is a lot faster. But hey, their store is pretty clean!

Chitang's Torta de Argao the Making

If no one is there to attend you at the store, you can totally ring the bell at that Mr. Chef statue guy (lower right of the photo above). 

Chitang's Torta de Argao the Making

 Other than torta, they also have other products there. The (coconut) wine though is not theirs but they have podreda, suncake, browas and even polvoron. But since I came there for torta and my guide (and new found friend) Janine is a neighbor of the owner, and I was lucky enough to be given a chance to see the making of their famous torta de Argao!

Chitang's Torta de Argao the Making

First stop is here, it's here where they do the mixtures and do the last step which is putting the sugar on top and wrapping the torta. So the first and last step goes here.

Chitang's Torta de Argao the Making

Check out what they've done after the first step. Their secret recipe with raisins on top! And this one will go at their traditional baking of torta (below).

Chitang's Torta de Argao the Making

Nope! The torta is not on top, it's in the middle where the lady is sticking her stick into checking if it's cooked. It's totally hot in here though.

Chitang's Torta de Argao the Making

When it's all baked, it looks like this. It makes me want to take a bite but they're not done yet!

Chitang's Torta de Argao the Making

Someone else will also put the cheese on top after that. Then send it back to the area (first area) where they put the sugar on top and then wrap it for take out! And of course, my trip won't be complete and my visit to Chitang's Torta is not done without tasting it.

Chitang's Torta de Argao the Making

They served us with their famous Hot Chocolate milk (which Argao also have the best tablea maker, the Guilang's tablea) and of course their famous torta! I totally did have the best food of Argao that day!


Chitang's Torta - The Verdict

What's unique of torta de Argao is that they don't use yeast for it to rise but instead they use the bahalina or tuba (coconut wine) and I believe they use and actually sell a coconut wine there too which is also from Argao, it's actually called the Bahalmax owned by Mr. and Mrs. Nilo Sedon who I also visited on that day and share about their product here on the Exotic Philippines blog.

The people of Argao proudly says something about their torta, "magkadugay, magkalami" which means the longer it is stored (not eaten) the better and best it taste. So we didn't ate it for a couple of days, but I was able to taste the fresh one at the store and the other we ate it 5 days later. And to tell you the truth, and I'm not paid or forced to say this but it actually taste a lot better.

So please note that my rating for Chitang's torta is based on my type of taste and I would rate Chitang's torta, torta with 2.5 stars out of 5 stars. The fresh one that I tasted from Chitang's torta is not that good, I mean I think that I'm just used with the traditional use of yeast so I could totally taste the tuba so I find it weird to taste it with the torta. It's still there even days after but the taste of the torta is a lot better, but then again I like the one using the yeast a lot better - probably because we're used with the torta version of Lilo-an's Titay's. But then again, it's my tongue, the torta is not my type of taste and the torta is Argao's best, so better have it a try.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Day at Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark

From being known as the Imperial Palace in Cebu Philippines, this 5 star hotel re-brands its name and now known as Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark. Where the new resort name is taken from the owners names, the businessmen Uy siblings that both names starts with “J” and Korean Yong Jun Park.

Everything is still the same for them though, even they dropped the franchise name of the Imperial and no one was fired, all their staff are retained. They wish to grow and add some more activities for their guests which was not  allowed back then for their license is limited. So expect that there are more new things coming to Jpark to offer you.

Along with other Cebu based bloggers, we were able to get a chance to experience the resort for the whole day and enjoy their restaurants, pools and water slides. It was actually my first time stepping into the result, the ironic thing is I only live few minutes away from the resort and for the past years I never ever visited it. So I was pretty much excited to see it for myself (at last) other than listening to what people have to say about their experience.

My Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark Experience

I just took the habal-habal (a motorcycle for hire) so that I don’t have to walk from across the street anymore. The guard stopped us, said I have to walk from the gate which I don’t mind since I want to take a picture of the whole front building, which was this:

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark

As I entered the building, someone greeted me and  asked if there's anything they could do for me. I told them I was invited for the bloggers presscon, so the staff said I'll have to wait for the other bloggers in the lobby since I was early. Check out my view!

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark J Lounge

That is actually the J Lounge, where coffee, tea and other pastries are served. I was already there around 7AM but the staff are already there, preparing.

When my fellow Cebu bloggers arrived, we were then taken to the Olive Restaurant to have our breakfast. I was able to catch up with some friends and of course discuss about the food of the Abalone where we took our breakfast. Our breakfast is from the Abalone, but we were placed at Olive since they're just connected.

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark Olive Restaurant

You might want to check out my post about our breakfast experience of Jpark's the Abalone restaurant. I  have more details there with their food and of course our experience.

Surely and honestly, I tried my best not to eat too much since I have to eat light for the slides later, I don't want to throw up and ermbarass myself but still I was really full in our breakfast. Good thing we have to walk up to the function room where we'll have the presscon.



After the Q&A, a chef came in with foods with him and it's the dishes from the Olive restaurant. There was no rice since it was just a food tasting, but still my tummy was full from the dishes served and desserts.

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark

We needed a bit of time to stretch out, since they've been feeding us a lot so they gave us time to roam around the resort. I was with two pair of lovers, and again I'm the 5th wheel roaming around the resort and taking pictures of the beautiful building again.

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark




I just love the landscaping of the whole resort, everything is clean, there's no garbage that is thrown anywhere. Actually, the resort is really nice to walk around, even under the heat of the sun since there are mini roads that are covered by the trees (real trees, not man made - I think because there are real birds living in there).

We also pass by some villas of the resort, I'm not sure though if these are the ones with private pool.
Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark Villa

In about 30 minutes or so, we were then called to go back and take our lunch. Yes, another feeding time! But I'm loving it. We took our lunch at the Ching Hai restaurant, which is still within the resort. Their Dim sum basket is worth it, you can have it for P2,500 which is good for 2 persons.

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark Ching Hai Restaurant

That's the entrance of the restaurant, which has a Chinese look already.

And of course, after taking our lunch, filling up our tummy, the resort organized a team building activity for us. Where they (I didn't join) were divided into 2 groups and have 3 contests prepared for us. One was where they have to take a photo of the whole group in an area assigned to them (basing on a photo provided  - so they have to find the spot).

I took the photos for one of the group, so I have to run around with the TEAM BONAKID around the resort. Here's the team Bonakid!

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark Cebu Bloggers Team Building

Now here are the fun photos we took! Look at their faces, it's priceless!

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark Cebu Bloggers Team Building

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark Cebu Bloggers Team Building

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark Cebu Bloggers Team Building

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark Cebu Bloggers Team Building

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark Cebu Bloggers Team Building

Sadly, they didn't win because the number of the photo above is covered and cannot be seen and confirmed that it's the one given to them. Sorry guys!

After that we were able to get the rest of the hours to ourselves and enjoy the pool and water slides!

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark Beach Pool

This is where we have our team building, the Beach pool!

And this is obviously for the kids, and the kids at heart! Which is the Captain Hook's pool.

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark Captain Hooks Swimming Pool

No kids will drown here by the way, really, no kids! If there is, then that will surely be (a freak) accident.

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark Captain Hooks Swimming Pool

If you have a toddler with you, the Toddler's pool is just right for them, a bit smaller but ideal for the toddlers. They also have their own slides!

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark toddlers pool

I was not satisfied by the other pools, because the beach pool is just about 3 feet and connected to the Amazon river and wave rider. So I move to the island pool!

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark island pool

The floor of the island pool is tiled, the beach pool is a bit rough but I think it's best so kids won't slide there. But I love the island pool, but then it was hot. I'm not sure if it's what it is or it was just really hot that time.

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark island pool

There are parts of the island pool that are not that deep but I believe the deepest one is about 5 feet. I wasn't able to roam around the island pool, no one joined me because the other guys spend their time at the pool bar.

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark pool bar

 If you want to rest, catch up or just relax you can stay at their cabanas.

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark Pool Cabana

The one above is their cabanas near their pools.

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark beach side cabana

And this one is one of their big cabanas, ideal for big groups which is near the beach.

I can't dare to try their slides because I'm full and I'm not sure if I'll fit (LOL). But here's a photo of their slides.

I also made a video for my whole experience at Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark, it can make you dizzy but anyway, here you go!



Tips on a Getaway to Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark

Having the chance to experience the resort (at last) for a day, I could give you a couple of tips when going away from the city life and spend your day to relax and enjoy life with Jpark.

  • No need to bring towels because it's included in their hotel service. But bring your ID to exchange with the towels you'll borrow.
  • Their day use package already includes a buffet lunch at the Abalone or dining at one of their other restaurants. Lunch starts at 12:00 to 2:30pm and dinner starts at 6:00pm to 9:00pm.
  • If you don't like to wear a bikini or at least a rash guard to use their pool, no worries. You can wear a tshirt and shorts, they're not that strict on swimming attires.
  • A maximum of two (2) kids that are 4 years old and below are free of charge but they should be accompanied by at least one paying adult.

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark Day Use Rates

I think it's just right that I'll share with you their rates, since this is my one day getaway and for day you can get away from the city and busy life at Jpark with their following rates:

Waterpark Package P3,500/person      P1,750/foreign child
Discounted Rates P2,500/person      P1,500/local child

Includes:
- Free use of towel, locker room, changing and shower room.
- Buffet lunch at the Abalone Buffet Restaurant, or dine at Ching Haio, Maru, Olive or Coral Seaside.
- Free use of the waterpark

Find out more about the resort by visiting their official website www.jparkislandresort.com or check out their new fan page at facebook.com/jparkresort - they dropped their previous fan page.

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