Hello First-time Travelers!

Are you going on a trip to a particular place for the first-time? Will you be setting foot in a foreign and unfamiliar soil? This blog site is created for you. I have been to many places, and the first time I stepped into unfamiliar territory I had to feel my way and rely on what I have on-hand especially when all I had were travel books, maps and print-outs from the web. My friends and I make our own itinerary. It is truly advisable to check out anything about the place before going on a trip. Yet, you need not necessarily hire a travel agent or tour guide to get you around every time you visit a place for the first time. A little help from locals can add spice to your first-time travels. It can give you the freedom to explore the place and enjoy the feeling of not spending much, based on my own travel experiences. You can take my word on some tips and information on the places I visited but feel free to be creative and be adventurous. I may offer some advice here and there but, as they say, “experience is the best teacher”. So, read on and find out more about my first-time travel adventures.

I want to make things easy for you. If you want to view the articles I wrote in this site, click the Table of Contents tab.

Photos used in this site are taken by the author, unless otherwise indicated.

And since I’m from the Philippines, I invite you to travel to my country as well.

Video taken from the Best Destination Travel TV site.

Categories: Philippines | Tags: , , , , , , , | 53 Comments

Traveling by postcards

I recently brought with me to my home province my postcard collection. As I opened the container where I kept my collections, I remember the places I have visited and those which I yearn to visit one day.

My post card collection. Soon it will be a trunkload of these scenic photos.

My post card collection. Soon it will be a trunkload of these scenic photos.

Many of the cards were bought in places where I visited, because they’re handy and easy to give out. But majority of my collection were received through Postcrossing, a site where members can swap post cards. I’ve stopped swapping in this site for about four years already and my collection gathered dust until I transported it to Bacolod. I remember those days when I was still active wherein I would always look forward to going home to see if a post card has arrived in my mail. But work got in the way and I never got the time to continue with my Postcrossing.

It is interesting to send a post card to a total stranger, sharing about the Philippines and what they can find in my country. It is even more interesting to receive cards from people I’ve never met, yet, pleasantly tell me about themselves. These are individuals from different corners of the earth and we’re all tied together by our passion to know each others’ culture. Sometimes, I would learn a thing or two about their language as they include it in their note. There are other strangers who received post cards from me who responded and became my pen friends.

One time, I received a post card from a kindergarten class from Germany. Getting into Postcrossing was their way of knowing about the places and people outside their own country. They place the cards they receive on their bulletin board so that all of them can revisit these cards every now and then.

All in all, my collections contained cards from these countries:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • Canada
  • Carribean
  • Chile
  • China
  • Cyprus
  • Czech
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Laos
  • Lithuania
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Micronesia
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • United Kingdom (UK)
  • United States of America (USA)
  • Vietnam
  • Zimbabwe
Beautiful architecture and landscape of Ottawa, Canada.

Beautiful architecture and landscape of Ottawa, Canada.

Wouldn't you like to take a dip in this breathtaking blue sea in Brazil?

Wouldn’t you like to take a dip in this breathtaking blue sea in Brazil?

Skyscrapers and urban cities are frequently featured in US postcards.

Skyscrapers and urban cities are frequently featured in US postcards.

A serene garden in China.

A serene garden in China.

One of the UNESCO heritage sites that I want to visit someday.

One of the UNESCO heritage sites that I want to visit someday.

San Marino looks like an interesting place to visit.

San Marino looks like an interesting place to visit.

A magical night view of Madrid, Spain.

A magical night view of Madrid, Spain.

I long to walk these alleys in those towns and cities in the Greek Islands.

I long to walk these alleys in those towns and cities in the Greek Islands.

Snow and reindeers bring my childhood dream of meeting Santa Claus close to reality.

Snow and reindeers bring my childhood dream of meeting Santa Claus close to reality.

The river, the bridges, the lights aglow give a surreal feel to Prague.

The river, the bridges, the lights aglow give a surreal feel to Prague.

The Petronas Towers look familiar. I've visited KL twice and I hope to explore more of the city once again.

The Petronas Towers look familiar. I’ve visited KL twice and I hope to explore more of the city once again.

A tranquil landscape in Russia.

A tranquil landscape in Russia.

Sorting them out, I felt like I was transported to these countries. I loved the city views, the lighthouses, the beaches, the festivals, and the breathtaking scenery and landscapes.

One of my favorites are the winter in Finland, with the reindeers and all. I also love the charm of the European cities. I specially love Greece as I dream of going to the Greek Islands someday.

I also reminisce my travels in Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia and China from the postcards I bought from these countries. I think it’s time for me to revive my collection. Hopefully, I’ll be able to visit all the places in these cards and have my photo taken in those landmarks.

Categories: Africa, Asia, Australia, Cambodia, China, Europe, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Singapore, site, South Korea, Thailand, US, Vietnam, World travel | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Preparing for a grand #RoadTrip2Home

This year, I will be taking one of the greatest travel challenges I’ll ever have in my lifetime. It is what I call my #RoadTrip2Home.

After so much prayers, spiritual discernment, consultation, and self-reflection, I have come to accept that for me to embark on a life abroad I need to go back to my roots — my home, my family. More than half of my life I have spent in the capital, Metro Manila, where I attended university and eventually built my career, devoting myself to work and other activities.

Home has been reduced to a place I only visit during the holidays, spending about two weeks each year during those Christmas breaks. Though it is hard to admit, I have become a tourist in my own hometown.

This image I found in the net struck a sensitive chord in my heart.

This image I found in the net struck a sensitive chord in my heart.

But before I could go on and on about my recent decision to change course in my life, I realized that going back home is not an easy thing to do. I have to take care of lots of logistical work. One major thing is to bring to the province my vehicle. So, I thought of loading some of my stuff in my trunk and take the Strong Republic Nautical Highway through Roll-On Roll-Off (RORO) or, in layman’s term, drive and take a barge in between islands.

Thus, my #RoadTrip2Home was born.

This RORO map I found through the Marina website - http://marina.gov.ph/srnh/srnh_main.html

This RORO map I found through the Marina website – http://marina.gov.ph/srnh/srnh_main.html

Taking the RORO will enable me to travel through four major islands in the Philippines, passing through six ports, and drive to more than 650 km. From Manila, it will be a drive south to the Batangas port onto Calapan port. Then another road trip through Oriental Mindoro to Roxas where another ferry ride to Caticlan. From there, we will traverse three provinces in the Panay island, before we will embark on the last sea travel towards Bacolod City.

It would have been easier if I will be driving through USA or Latin America or Europe or Indochina. But, no, that will not be the case. I live in a 7,107-island archipelago, which makes things more exciting. I’ve read books of individuals who road through states, countries and continents and it looked like a lot of fun. How much more if there is some sea travel involved.

To get this grand plan going, I enlisted the help of my uncle. He agreed to the plan and he’ll be flying to Manila a few days before we take that RORO trip. Now, I’m scouring through Google maps and various websites to get as much details as I can. And by just reading through what I’ve gathered, it looks like an exciting road trip.

Visit my site to see how this plan will unfold. If you have suggestions, I really will appreciate it. Just leave it below in my comment section. Let’s take this #RoadTrip2Home adventure together.

Categories: Asia, Luzon, Philippines, Visayas, WithLocals | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Definitely Japan. Definitely Kojie.san

Time and time again, friends from various circles and relatives have been tossing to me the idea of traveling  Japan. It is definitely a place worth visiting and exploring. I’m just waiting for the right moment (or season) to embark on this new travel adventure. I’d want to go there on spring for the cherry blossoms, but autumn and winter might also be interesting to visit.

Spring would be a good time to visit Japan for the cherry blossoms.

Spring would be a good time to visit Japan for the cherry blossoms.

But recent series of life events had me put this idea in the back burner, hoping to resurrect it probably next year, should I get to set aside a budget for this trip. However, I was again reminded of Japan when I was introduced to the marketing people of Kojie.san, one of our partners in a recent company event.

I am familiar of Kojie.san, being the company that first made kojic acid soap available commercially in the Philippines. This kojic acid soap has a micro peeling effect, which makes it a potent whitening product. It does not contain any harmful chemicals and contains antioxidants and 100% all natural ingredients.

Kojie-965x1200

I have always been in awe at the porcelain-like skin of the Japanese and it came as no surprise to find this kind of product from Japan to enter our country. And to achieve that kind of skin, it is important to use only the original kojic acid soap.

So while a trip to Japan is still on hold and will soon be placed in the drawing board, I would be content to imbibe the beauty secrets of Japanese women. That way, it will be easier for me to blend in the crowd when I visit the land of the rising sun.

Categories: World travel | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Great travel initiative in Asia: spending time with the locals

by: Martin Sleegers

Ever overheard a conversation between travellers? It becomes clear within minutes that the most popular stories revolve around “having dinner in a local family’s home” or “discovering the hidden gems away from the beaten track”.

image withlocals 7

When roaming the internet looking for nice travel initiatives, I came across this new website called Withlocals.com. I was quite taken by the mind-set of Withlocals. By using the principles of the sharing economy, Withlocals enables people to earn a sustainable income by doing something they are passionate about. Everybody is good at something and this is exactly what tourism in the 21st century should be about. Co-founder Willem Maas mentions that every time he travelled abroad, the best tips, insights and dinners were provided by local hosts he met on his journey.

image withlocals1

image withlocals 9

There are already many countries in Asia on the platform, but the Withlocals Tours in Sri Lanka, Home Dinners and Activities seem most interesting to me. For instance, Roshan offers a great cooking class, followed by a home dinner. Also, he is willing to share the folklore and myths surrounding Sri Lankan cooking! If you are more of an outdoorsy type and want to explore the nature, the Activities in Sri Lanka are perfect for this: Gracian can take you on a trek in the Udawattakele forest, teaching you everything about the local flora and fauna. Whether you are a local or a host, advantages seem to go both ways.

image withlocals 8

For tourists, it is a great way to help boost the local economy and to experience the real culture and habits of a country. Also, it is a way to form new friendships that may last a lifetime. For locals, it is the perfect way to earn money with something they do daily. Also, locals can meet new cultures and give information to the tourists about their home country.

image withlocals 10

In short, this is definitely something I will keep an eye on and possibly try out myself someday! Check out their website if you like to browse through more activities, tours or home dinners in Southeast Asia.

image withlocals 13

Categories: Asia, home dinners, Sri Lanka, World travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A lucky Chinese New Year adventure

Four ladies decided to brave Manila’s Chinatown in Binondo, said to be the oldest Chinatown in the world that was established in 1594, for the Chinese New Year festivities. Some friends forewarned us that Binondo would be crowded and we have to stay away from firecrackers.

Welcoming the year of the wooden horse at Resorts World Manila.

Welcoming the year of the wooden horse at Resorts World Manila.

But it was really our day. The first day of the Year of the Wooden Horse was a good beginning for us. It started when we met at the Resorts World Manila in Newport. Two of my friends were already members of Resorts World I had to apply for membership to avail of its benefits. I found the counter without any queue and got on with the application in a matter of minutes.

As we waited for our other companions, we had the luxury of enjoying the Chinese New Year decors at the plaza. Booths were in place, a stage was erected for performances, and a lucky tree on one side. Three corners of the plaza had Chinese arcs that complete the Chinese New Year feel.

From Resorts World, we proceeded to Lucky Chinatown where a program was already starting when we arrived. TV crews and some media were also around to cover the happenings. What caught our attention inside the mall was the wooden horse wall that was made of chopsticks.

Beautiful artwork made of wooden chopsticks!

Beautiful artwork made of wooden chopsticks!

Outside Lucky Chinatown, people were lined up to avail of the free tikoy or Nian Gao, a sticky cake. We walked towards Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz, named after the first Filipino saint, at Quintin Paredes St. and saw floats being readied for the parade. Throngs of people in red shirts dot Binondo’s streets.

 

People wearing the lucky color red. The float at the background.

People wearing the lucky color red. The float at the background.

Dong Bei
642 Yunchengco St.
Binondo, Manila

A long line of people is found outside a small and narrow store, called Dong Bei. Known for its delicious dumplings. We could see the dumplings being prepared from the glass panel. The cramped hole-in-the-wall exuded with Chinese authenticity, the reason of the people patiently waiting outside the street for an available table inside the eatery.

Are you ready to fall in line at Dong Bei? Not when you're hungry!

Are you ready to fall in line at Dong Bei? Not when you’re hungry!

Since we were already famished and couldn’t wait in line, we proceeded towards Ongpin St. for another dumpling store. But not before we stopped for some squid balls from a street vendor we spotted in one corner.

This squid ball vendor is a lifesaver!

This squid ball cart is a lifesaver!

Tasty Dumplings
611 Norberto Ty St.
Binondo, Manila

We were surprised to find a closed stall where Tasty Dumplings should be located. A tarpaulin outside pointed us to 611 Norberto Ty St., formerly Condesa St., which is just at the other side of Binondo Church.

Tasty Dumplings has moved to the next street.

Tasty Dumplings has moved to the next street.

What a surprise it was that there was no line outside the small eatery. There were families outside and children playing but they didn’t seem to be queuing to get in so we went straight inside the restaurant. A server immediately told us that there was a table for four since one table was being bussed.

People started crowding at the door.

People started crowding at the door.

Our original plan of trying small portions of food as we planned this adventure to be a food trip was thrown out of the window. We immediately ordered a lot of food – pork chop rice, fried dumplings, hong ma, bread, braised beef noodles, and so much more. Not to mention the soothing winter melon drink which was served warm topped with ice. Their specialties were indeed delectable as reviewed by many sites. The pork chop was tasty since it had a certain tang to it. We dipped the silver roll bread on the sweet-taste hong ma sauce and placed the soft beef on the bread and had our fill. Rice, noodles, bread – it was carb overload!

Silver roll bread, porkchop rice, noodles, hong ma... We ate like there was no tomorrow.

Silver roll bread, porkchop rice, noodles, hong ma… We ate like there was no tomorrow.

In the middle of our lunch, more people have been waiting outside and some of them already were slowly making their way inside to make sure they get a table.

When we went out, the people outside waiting were already this many.

When we went out, the people outside waiting were already this many.

After our sumptuous lunch, we made our way to Quintin Paredes St. to find this famous lumpia house. But as we found a candy vendor near the statue of roman Ongpin outside Binondo Church, we again stopped for some sweets.

This candy vendor was a sight at the festivities.

This candy vendor was a sight at the festivities.

New Po-Heng Lumpia House
Uysudin Building
531 Quintin Paredes St.
Binondo, Manila

We bumped into a friend along Quintin Paredes St. and she told us that her husband and companions were inside New Po-Heng lining up for lumpia, which is a Filipino spring roll. We went inside the unassuming building into an eatery at the end of the hall. Though it was an old building, what I liked about New Po-Heng was that there was an open patio inside the restaurant with a fountain at the middle.

The entrance to New Po-Heng looked like a long hallway.

The entrance to New Po-Heng looked like a long hallway.

Customers could see how the lumpia was being prepared. I wanted to take some photos but because there was a long line and people were crowding, I decided to step out at the streets for some fresh air. Aside from that, we were still full from our feast of a lunch. But one of my companions wanted to get the lumpia. Good thing that our friends we met there who were already in the queue offered to buy her share of lumpia so she didn’t have to line up. Lucky girl!

The open courtyard is a breathe of fresh air, literally and figuratively.

The open courtyard is a breathe of fresh air, literally and figuratively.

Carvajal St.

Carvajal is a small alley from Quintin Paredes St. to Yuchengco St. There are many fruit stands and stores inside Carvajal St. My companion was able to buy cherries for P1,000 a kilo (about US$22 per kilo).

Entering Carvajal St., which is more of an alley, from Quentin Paredes St.

Entering Carvajal St., which is more of an alley, from Quentin Paredes St.

Fruit stands fill Carvajal St.

Fruit stands fill Carvajal St.

Also inside Carvajal St. is Quick Snack, known for its affordable and delectable offerings of lumpia, noodles, tofu, and other Chinese and Asian delicacies.

There was also a line, albeit short, outside Quick Snack.

There was also a line, albeit short, outside Quick Snack.

At the end of the alley, along Yuchengco St. is the store Ho-land hopia and bakery which was selling Chinese pastries. On the other corner is a nameless store that displayed different kinds of pickles, nuts and other Chinese sweets and food.

Ho-land bakery.

Ho-land bakery.

Chinese sweets, pickles, nuts, and other food items are also found in Carvajal St.

Chinese sweets, pickles, nuts, and other food items are also found in Carvajal St.

We joined the flow of humanity at Ongpin St. towards the Ongpin South bridge to Sabino Padilla St. We passed through the President’s Restaurant and the eateries along the estero or creek before we came to the point where loud drumbeats could be heard and people were cheering at the dancing dragons in the parade.

A crowd-filled Ongpin St.

A crowd-filled Ongpin St.

The Ongpin South Bridge.

The Ongpin South Bridge.

Café Chino
G/F Binondo Suites
801 Ongpin St. corner Sabino Padilla St.
Binondo, Manila

Wanting to have some hot and cold beverages after our walk, we crossed the street to Café Chino at the Binondo Suites Manila. There were no available tables inside so we proceeded to its second floor, at their KTV area where we rested and waited to be entertained by the servers. The glass windows gave us a good vantage point of the festivities outside.

The longest dragon I've seen that passed outside Cafe Chino.

The longest dragon I’ve seen that passed outside Cafe Chino.

Various colors of dancing tigers and dragons paraded in that intersection. Then I caught a glimpse of a familiar crown. It was Miss International Bea Rose Santiago on a float and with her were Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada and Vice Mayor Isko Moreno greeting the crowd. Horse-driven carriages followed carrying some beauties and a float of a golden horse followed behind.

Miss International Bea Rose Santiago with the leaders of the city of Manila.

Miss International Bea Rose Santiago with the leaders of the city of Manila.

The wooden horse float.

The wooden horse float.

We couldn’t be happier that we were at the right place at the right time as we sat comfortably in an air-conditioned room watching the attractions below. It was also a blessing that the waiters couldn’t attend immediately to us because it gave us more time to let the parade finish.

We got the best view from the mezzanine of Cafe Chino.

We got the best view from the mezzanine of Cafe Chino.

11/88 Shopping Mall
Regina Regente St. corner Felipe II St.
Binondo, Manila

From Café Chino, we walked along Sabino Padilla St. and turned at Soler St. towards Regina Regente St. The 168 Towers and 999 Mall could be spotted as we traversed the street. We were going towards the shopping area of Binondo. We were supposed to go back to Lucky Chinatown but as we saw 11/88 building, one of our friends who frequented the place, offered to bring us to the stall inside where she usually buys her dresses.

The 11/88 Shopping mall beside Lucky Chinatown mall.

The 11/88 Shopping mall beside Lucky Chinatown mall.

We excitedly tried different designs and shopped until they were closing. We got great discounts and enjoyed our experience fitting through all the dresses we picked. Yet, the experience got us exhausted and hungry once more.

Beautiful Chinese lantern display at the Lucky Chinatown Walk.

Beautiful Chinese lantern display at the Lucky Chinatown Walk.

We went to Lucky Chinatown, next to 11/88, planning to go back to Resorts World where we would have dinner and watch a movie. But because of the influx of people, we could only ride the 8:30pm trip, still two hours away. We had our names listed for the shuttle and went around Lucky Chinatown mall to look for a good restaurant to have dinner. As we learned that a fireworks display was scheduled at 7:00pm, we tried to find a restaurant inside that would give us a good view of the skyline. Since we couldn’t get what we were looking for, we decided to dine outside at the annex building.

Paying their respects to the image of Buddha.

Paying their respects to the image of Buddha.

We lined up at Mann Hann and waited outside, enjoying the attractions at the walkway in between the two buildings of Lucky Chinatown Mall and its annex. Chinese lanterns light up the whole stretch, food stalls were selling food, Chinese tricycles were available for photo opportunity and people were writing their New Year wishes on a wall. Others were also gathered around a posterity tree and some paid their respects to the image of Buddha at the end of the Lucky Chinatown Walk.

Prosperity tree? It's an attractive cherry blossom-like tree at the walkway.

Prosperity tree? It’s an attractive cherry blossom-like tree at the walkway.

As we were seated outside the restaurant waiting for our turn, we were fortunate to witness the fireworks display. It was short but it still got the people excited.

Fireworks display at the Lucky Chinatown mall.

Fireworks display at the Lucky Chinatown mall.

Mann Hann
Lucky Chinatown annex building
Reina Regente St.
Binondo, Manila

The interiors of Mann Hann were very modern yet artistic feel. Slabs of wood make the walls zen-like yet also absorb the noise of all the chatter. The lighting was minimalistic yet good to the eyes. But what we really enjoyed was the food.

Sweet and sour fish fillet.

Sweet and sour fish fillet.

Having all the carbohydrates and meat for lunch, we opted for hakaw (shrimp dumplings), broccoli flowers with garlic, sweet and sour fish, yang chow, and radish cake. Except for the radish cake, which we felt could still be made crispier and more delicious; our dinner was hefty and satisfying. The staff was also friendly and efficient, despite the high demand from patrons eating in the restaurant and those waiting for their turn.

Broccoli flowers.

Broccoli flowers.

Mann Hann originated in Greenhills, San Juan in 1994 as a Chinese grocery store. Eventually, they started cooking Chinese food for take-out but because patrons grew and more people go to Mann Hann, they eventually opened their first restaurant at Wilson St. in Greenhills.

Back to Resorts World Manila.

Back to Resorts World Manila.

It was time to return to the mall’s shuttle waiting area. Good thing we were accommodated at the 8:30pm shuttle ride because there were voucher holders who also rode with us.

The Imperial Festival continues at Resorts World Manila.

The Imperial Festival continues at Resorts World Manila.

 

We ended the night back at Resorts World Manila, enjoying the Imperial Festival at their plaza. Since we couldn’t buy Chinese pastries at Binondo due to all the lines, my friends were able to have their hopia to bring home to their respective homes. It was a fun adventure yet not too tiring. We enjoyed the festivities without sweating it too much. We were just lucky to have experienced it all. Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Categories: Asia, China, Group travel, Luzon, Philippines, Women travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Trail of General MacArthur

General Douglas MacArthur was a celebrated World War II hero that played a significant part in Philippine history as he led the American troops against the Japanese army. I read about him in the pages of history books but I haven’t so much paid attention on his life in the Philippine soil. But through my travels around the country, I have come to encounter the shadows of Gen. MacArthur, tracing his footsteps as he left an indomitable mark in these places.

Corregidor

I have visited Corregidor three times, yet every tour around this tadpole-shaped island always reveals a new interesting facet of this island-fortress. It was during my second visit when I caught site of a large statue of the general near the Lorcha Dock.

The MacArthur Park in Corregidor Island.

The MacArthur Park in Corregidor Island.

There he stood at the Gen. MacArthur Park, named after him, his hand outstretched as if waving to incoming visitors and bidding farewell to departing guests. Beside his statue was inscribed his famous line “I Shall Return.”

A waving MacArthur is an interesting sight at the Lorcha Dock.

A waving MacArthur is an interesting sight at the Lorcha Dock.

Inscribed, "I Shall Return".

Inscribed, “I Shall Return”.

MacArthur made Corregidor as the headquarters of the Allied Forces where he set up office inside the Malinta Tunnel before he set off to Cagayan de Oro and eventually flew to Australia where he uttered his quotable line. A light and sound show reveal certain events that took place inside the tunnel, including that of MacArthur leading his army during the war.

The Malinta Tunnel has a light and sound show of the WW II events.

The Malinta Tunnel has a light and sound show of the WW II events.

Manila Hotel

Never have I thought that a suite is named after Gen. MacArthur at the 101-year old Manila Hotel. The hotel itself speaks volumes of stories as it bore witness to the changing landscape of Manila.

The MacArthur Suite's receiving area.

The MacArthur Suite’s receiving area.

Yet, when I have come to work in this prestigious hotel, I was also ushered into the doors of the luxurious MacArthur Suite. For six years (1935-1941), MacArthur and his family made the penthouse atop Manila Hotel’s fifth floor as its home. A trivia in the hotel’s website revealed that: To handle the cost of MacArthur’s suite, he was given the honorary title of “General Manager”. He attended the monthly meetings. He, however, ignored the figurehead status and instead took control of hotel management. MacArthur’s favorite food at the hotel was lapu-lapu, a grouper fish native to the Philippines, wrapped in banana leaves.

MacArthur's office, now a study room.

MacArthur’s office, now a study room.

To date, the suite holds the many memorabilia of Gen. MacArthur, including one of his military caps and replica of his medals. MacArthur suite has a master bedroom with a dressing room; one guest room; two baths and one powder room; a study room; formal dining room overlooking the bay; well-equipped kitchen; and a balcony with a stunning view of the Manila Bay. Famous personalities, such as former US President Bill Clinton, stayed in this suite.

The master's bedroom.

The master’s bedroom.

Palo, Leyte

Finally, I was able to step on the very ground where MacArthur landed upon his return to the Philippines. It was unfortunate though that it was raining at that time, which afforded us with very limited time to enjoy the place.

The inscription at the memorial.

The inscription at the memorial.

Larger-than-life bronze statues of MacArthur and six of his men behind, stood at the Red Beach of Candahug, Palo. It marked the historic October 20, 1944 landing of the Allied Forces.

The landing memorial. Photo by Cherry Viernes.

The landing memorial. Photo by Cherry Viernes.

The bronze statues also felt the wrath of super typhoon Yolanda as one of them fell. The monument was restored and MacArthur and his men once again stood tall at Leyte’s beach.

Description about the memorial.

Description about the memorial.

There are other areas in the Philippines where MacArthur has set foot on throughout his years in the country. I may be able to visit them someday or I may chance upon MacArthur’s trail in places where I have never been before.

Categories: Asia, Philippines, Visayas, World travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments