Friday, May 09, 2008

My 7 day vacation

Day 1

Our flight was scheduled at 7:25am. We arrived at the Manila Domestic Airport around 9:10am. Manila greeted me with a clear sky, not the polluted one I've imagine. It's not so bad, after all... We then proceeded to UP Diliman (Quezon City), P250.00 taxi fare from the airport. We stayed at the University Hotel, P1,600 for a twin room, not that bad.

The UP Diliman campus looks like a subdivision. Or, let me say a hybrid subdivision... It's basically complete. They have a shopping center, bank, theater house, post office and God knows what else they have in their campus. The circular chapel is also amazing! Another site to see is the sunken garden. Kha's Foodhouse offers delicious kebabs. You can also ride a jeepney they call IKOT if you want to go around the UP Diliman campus.

Our next stop is the SM Mall of Asia (MOA). Of course, who hasn't heard of the biggest mall in the Philippines? And the 3rd largest mall in the world? Since Quezon City is far from MOA, we availed of virtually all of the means of transportation in going there: Jeepney (P7.50), MRT (P15.00 per person), and taxi... I love riding the MRT, there's no traffic, errr, only human traffic, but it's manageable...

Next Stop: Star City! My fear of rides prevented me from trying on their hanging coaster. But since Cary bought extra tickets (P250.00 minimum for 3 tickets, other rate applies of ride-all-you-can), I did try the Surf Dance and damn that thing! I felt like I left my soul in that ride! I screamed my lungs out and ended up with a hoarse sexy voice after that ride... Haha! One thing to visit at Star City is Snow World (P160.00/person), Filipinos would surely enjoy it since we have no snow here in the Philippines and being inside Snow World would give you a feeling that you're not in this hot country...

Day 2

Time to go to Baguio. Waking up at 9am with heavy and groggy heads due to lack of sleep, we went down for some breakfast at the cafe... We needed instructions on how to get to the bus station and the receptionist gladly gave us directions...

Taxi to the Cubao Bus Station amounted P110.00. There was heavy traffic and it's starting to get into my nerves.. Hmmm... We boarded Victory Liner Bus No. 6105 that would bring us to Baguio City. Bus fare is at P380.00 per person, that is for the 6-hour travel with two stop-overs. Deluxe Bus ride costs P600.00 but would only take you 4 hours to reach Baguio, with no stop-overs.

We didn't mind the 6-hour ride to Baguio, and we also enjoyed the stop-overs... When we arrived at Baguio, we were greeted by their very accommodating tourism officers and even helped us find the suitable hotel. It only cost us P50.00 in going to the hotel. We checked in at Belfranlt Hotel, which is located at the heart of the city. Twin room accommodation is at P1,300.00 (within our budget!) and it already includes complementary breakfast for two.

Belfranlt Hotel is located at the downtown area so we just walked up and down (literally...) the streets and discovered Baguio life... Baguio has the best climate from all of the places I've been to. It is a fairly busy city, a little crowded, there's slight traffic, narrow roads, lots of shops and establishments, and ultimately lovable! We then proceeded to the SM City Baguio, the mall is not air-conditioned, they don't need it anyway!

Day 3

We almost forgot that the reason why we're in this vacation is for the Annual PICPA Convention... The day has come for us to set aside our "tourist mood" and go to Baguio Convention Center for the convention registration. It's time to be professionals...

But Baguio has very much to offer and we don't want to spend our afternoon just slumped in our hotel rooms. We decided to take a city tour with certified public accountants from the Mati Chapter. We were able to visit Mines View Park (you can find lots of pasalubong there), The Mansion, Wright Park (where you can try horse-back riding), Camp John Hay, Strawberry Fields (buy strawberry jams and preserves here since they have the lowest prices, also try their Strawberry Wine, and strawberry taho!), Philippine Military Academy, and Lourdes Grotto. Our tour, being sponsored by one of our friends, was for free! But, the city tourism also offers a city tour at a package of P2,500.00 for a group of tourists not to exceed 10.

The day was concluded with a dinner at Volante's. Volante is a restaurant which offers pizza, pasta, and hefty meals at very reasonable prices.


First day of technical sessions. We were worried on what to wear. We were supposed to be in business attire but I did not bring enough clothes that would pass for as business attire. My only power dress has to be saved for tomorrow. The first session was held at UP Baguio.

Nothing much happened during this day except for technical sessions, programs, awarding of Mr. Benjamin Punongbayan, and MMDA Chaiman Bayani Fernando's speech.

Day 5

Second day of technical sessions. We had break-out technical sessions according to our fields of interest: government, commerce and industry, education, and public practice. I think that this is somehow a good strategy in dividing the population of cpas in their technical sessions to flock people of common interests and focus out the issues involve per division.

After the technical sessions, Cary and I went to Burnham Park. You can buy lots of pasalubong there: peanut brittle, lengua, knitted caps and shawls, etc. You can also try boating at their lake (but I don't recommend it.. lol!)

That night was the regional presentations night. If you were there, you wouldn't believe that the performers are professional Certified Public Accountants. All of the contestants from different regions were prepared and really showed their talent. The contest was bested by the Eastern Visayas Region with their rendition of "The Spirit of the 70's." In second place was my own region, Southern Mindanao.

We had dinner at Andok's at few minutes past 12 midnight. Luckily, Andok's is open 24 hours... Later on my 7-day trip, I discovered a lot of Andok's branches all over Luzon! Thanks Andok's! =)

Day 6

Third and last day of sessions. But, since it's already closing plenary, we decided to skip the sessions and go back to Manila. Our bus left at 10:00 am and we were at Manila by almost 5:00 pm. T'was raining hard in Manila, somewhere in Kamachile was flooded, and there was heavy traffic. The dark side of Manila has shown its face on me.

We stayed at Manila International Youth Hostel along Tomas Claudio Street, it's near the airport, near MOA, near Baclaran, and near Manila Ocean Park!

Now that we're back in Manila, we've decided to try ice skating. There are no ice skating rinks in Davao and it has always been my dream to try ice skating since I was little. So, off we go to SM Mall of Asia and try our luck at ice skating. Upon arriving at MOA, we learned that there was also an ongoing pyro olympics, so we also enjoyed the view of fireworks display (another thing which you wouldn't experience in Davao City since pyrothechnics are prohibited). We had dinner at Teriyaki Boy and then prepared ourselves for the much-awaited ice skating sessions!

We were lucky! Ice skating was only P250.00, promo for the last 2 hours of skating time (9pm to 11pm, mall hours were extended because of the pyro olympics). For first timers, you can hire an assistant who would help you know the basics of ice skating, at the price of P150.00 for 30 minutes. My assistant was named Ramon, and he taught me well. =)

If ever there would be ice skating here in Davao, I would enroll and try my luck at figure skating. I enjoyed it so much and one sure thing that would make me go back to Manila is ice skating!

Day 7

Time to go home... But before that, there are still other things to accomplish... Our flight back home is at 3:55pm.. We have to budget our time to be able to go to Manila Ocean Park and Baclaran Church before heading for the airport.

Since it's a Sunday, Manila Ocean Park is already open at 9am. We were lucky to have arrived at that exact time. There are lots of visitors and lots of people. Fortunately, Manila Ocean Park has an excellent queuing system! Entrance fee is at P400.00. You can see lots of sea creatures there, truly a place that you should visit when in Manila.

Baclaran Church. No, I did not attend the mass, I just went there and prayed, then left. The temperature was rising and I was profusely sweating... I felt like I am going to faint due to heatstroke. Manila is too hot for me!!! ARRGGHHHH... Thankfully, there's a nearby 7eleven store and I re-fuelled myself with Slurpeeeee!

It's really time to go home. We were at the Manila Domestic Airport shortly after lunch. I don't mean to be rude but their airport is ugly compared to our airport in Davao... Amidst the skyscrapers and beautiful roads and bridges, why don't you improve your airport? Our flight back home is delayed for 2 hours. Oh well, there's nothing we can do... We regretted not being able to try IMAX just to reach our flight and it's delayed for 2 hours! Two precious hours!!!

Back in Davao... The drive back home made me realize how much I miss Davao.. There are no heavy traffic here... The Davao breeze may be so far warmer than that of Baguio but it's still comfortably warm compared to that of Manila. Anyway, I'm happy that I've reached those parts of the Philippines...

I love my country, and I'll be visiting other places soon! (--,)

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