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? Rest assured that you have fellow travelers on the road who are embarking on new journeys.

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.

My Papal Visit Experience

The first month of the year 2015 is a great kick-off for the Visit the Philippines Year. January is full of festivities, and religious celebrations, at that. Throngs of people were expected to gather in Manila for the Black Nazarene,  in Cebu and Kabankalan for the Sinulog, in Iloilo for the Dinagyang, and in Aklan for the Ati-Atihan. But the most-watched event was the State and Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church.

When his visit was announced publicly, I thought that I had to be there. Having settled back in my home city of Bacolod, booking a flight and accommodation is a big consideration. Nonetheless, my sister and I were compelled to go to the capital for this rare opportunity to see the Pope.

It’s not just about a mere “catching a glimpse” of Pope Francis. It is more than that. But let me not delve into my faith as that will require a different blog entirely.

And so, my sister and I prepared for this special religious journey.

World Youth Day 1995

I have to backtrack 20 years into the past. There I was, a freshman in college, enjoying my university life in the capital, and very eager to try so many things. As preparations for the World Youth Day in 1995 was underway, I enlisted in an Opus Dei study center as a media volunteer as this was more aligned with my interest as a Broadcast Communication student then.

Never have I realized that my Media Volunteer ID would give me a pass inside cordoned-off areas, getting near Pope John Paul II, now Saint John Paul II, and an opportunity to be one of the ushers in the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA). We were assigned at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) where the media action was electrifying. On the streets, we would interview foreign delegates and submit daily articles for the organizers’ event newsletter.

I couldn’t count the times I have seen Pope John Paul II and in most of those encounters, I was a few feet away, sometimes, almost an arms length. When he arrived in PICC for the CMMA, we were at that special entrance door where he would be entering. In Luneta, where millions attended, we stayed at the media box, a steel scaffolding of about two-storey high. We had a good view of the Quirino Grandstand and the crowd but being up there was also scary.

The theme song “Tell the World of His Love” made a great dent in my memory and in my heart. And though I cherished all the moments of my WYD’95 experience, it was unfortunate that my camera film (digital cameras where not yet a thing then) got destroyed and everything just went black.

Papal Visit 2005

This time, I have no Media Volunteer ID to get me close to the Pope, so we had to grab every opportunity we could to be where he was. Since we booked our flights before the official schedule was announced, we realized that we wouldn’t make it to the Sunday mass in the Quirino Grandstand as we had to be in the airport by then to catch our plane going back home.

We planned our itinerary. Early Friday morning, we made our way to the Manila Cathedral where the Pope would be saying mass to priests and the religious. I knew we would be staying outside the Cathedral and I was prepared to squeeze in the crowd. That was even a small crowd and quite manageable but, still, when you are right there in the middle of action, you just have to go with the flow. We had to change locations several times, until we found a better spot near a building. Quite far, but better.

The mass itself was moving and we didn’t mind seeing Pope Francis from afar when he walked from the Cathedral and crossed the street to the Tulay ng Kabataan Center that housed street children. When the crowd dissipated, we walked towards the Mall of Asia (MOA) direction. I thought that walking the whole stretch of Roxas Boulevard would not be that hard. But after walking only a block, our legs were already aching and we decided to take a pedicab.

We asked the driver to take us to the nearest area where we could grab a jeep or a cab but he brought us at the corner of Quirino and Taft Avenues and charged a hefty amount. We bargained and he was left without a choice but accept our payment. Though we never planned to be in this area, we decided to wait there as it was near the Apostolic Nunciature. We found a great spot and when he passed by, we had a good view of him.

As the crowd broke, we knew we had to be walking again and we decided to pursue our plan to go to the MOA. We were able to get a jeepney but we had to go down a long way from MOA since most of the roads were closed. From Libertad, we crossed Roxas Boulevard and walked towards Macapagal Avenue. Tired, exhausted and famished, we decided to instead have dinner at the Project Pie in the Blue Bay Walk. We were resigned to the idea that after eating, we would just head home and get some rest.

Alas, as we were finishing the last of our pizza, the crowd cheered outside. I went out towards the highway and a few seconds later, Pope Francis passed by, waving at us. It was an exhilarating feeling.

If you are going to a large religious celebration, whether it is a Christian gathering or otherwise, these are things that you should bear in mind:

1. Wear clothes that are appropriate to the occasion. If there will be prayers or rites, be sure that what you wear is not offensive to the local faithfuls attending the gathering. Also, wear shoes that are comfortable for walking or standing.

2. Pack light. You wouldn’t want to carry that heavy backpack while the crowd squeezes on you and you have to walk several blocks to get you to your destination and back, right?

3. Bring the essentials. You should have an ID there, in the first place. No large amounts of cash, especially if you are a foreigner attending a local religious celebration. Be mindful only of those that are allowed in the area. For this Papal Visit, for instance, umbrellas were not allowed.

4. Check the weather. If it will rain and it’s an open-air venue, know where you can take shelter. If it is a closed door affair, know the times to get there so you can avoid an impending rain.

5. Find a good vantage point. Being near sometimes is not strategic. Oftentimes, you have to take a few steps back, find a higher ground, and you’ll get a better view of the happenings.

6. Eat, drink, and go to the toilet beforehand. If you have to camp out hours or a day before, have a food available in your belongings. If going to the toilet before the celebration begins can’t be avoided, always try to look where the toilet is and situate yourself not too far from it.

7. Look up. If the crowd is too tight and you feel you can’t breathe, look up so your nose can breathe the air above you.

8. Be friendly. Fights often erupt when people push each other. Be nice to those around you. Sometimes, you’ll need their help. Besides, it is always good to spread positive vibes.

By Sunday, while everyone was camping out in Luneta, we attended a quiet morning mass at the historic Malate Church. Getting into the airport was such a challenge but we were thankful we got there early.

The messages — his words, his smiles and gestures, the whole scenario, the people enduring in the rains — they all burn in my heart after this experience. The joy, the blessing, and the sacrifice are indescribable. Witnessing the realities of human nature, the need to be in front and near the Pope, yet the ability to reach out and lend a hand to a complete stranger, they touched me in a humbling way. It was not all merriment, it even rained on the parade, literally. But the happiness of standing up and expressing my faith…

Now, words fail me. Delving into my faith do not require more words. I find comfort in the silence of my heart.

15 Reasons to Have More Fun in the Philippines this 2015

This is the Department of Tourism video of the Visit the Philippines Year 2015.

Within hours, as I write this post, the world will turn a new leaf and usher the year 2015 in our midst.

It’s another great year to enjoy life to the fullest and make a difference in the world.

As a student of life where the world is my classroom, I always thirst for new things to unravel. That is why I pore myself reading books and relevant websites, connecting with various kinds of people, and traveling different kinds of roads to explore what else is there that needs to be seen and be known.

And one favorite laboratory of mine is the 7,107-island nation that I call home, the Philippines, where its diversity provide multiple colors in my travel pallet that create various hues and tints of adventure.

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The year 2015 is the perfect time to explore the Philippines. The Department of Tourism has declared it and rightfully so. Check out their websites – Visit the Philippines Year 2015 (VPY2015) and It’s More Fun in the Philippines – for the guide of what’s in store this coming year here in our land. It has listed why and I have more reasons to add. But allow me only 15 excuses why you need to be in this part of the globe this 2015!

1. Friendly people

Filipinos are hospitable and friendly, by nature. We are a bunch of helpful people, save for some bad tomatoes; but, we truly are kind. From the boatman-slash-tour-guide in the Underground River in Palawan to the 100-plus-year-old man in Batanes, we are eager to put a smile on everyone’s face. Special shout out to my hometown, the City of Smiles – Bacolod – where almost every man on the road is willing to lend a helping hand to you.

We met this lolo (grandfather) who welcomed us in his home in Batanes.

We met this lolo (grandfather) who welcomed us in his home in Batanes.

2. Colorful festivals

From January to December, the Philippine calendar is filled with colorful festivals. The Sinulog in Cebu, Ati-Atihan in Kalibo, Dinagyang in Iloilo, Panagbenga in Baguio, Pahiyas in Quezon, Masskara in Bacolod, Kadayawan in Davao… the list goes on. Whichever festival you take part in, you’ll definitely bring home the fun memories with you.

Pahiyas in Quezon province.

Pahiyas in Quezon province.

Masskara Festival in Bacolod City.

Masskara Festival in Bacolod City.

3. Historical landmarks

Take a stroll down the cobble-stone streets of Vigan or walk around the heritage district of Silay, church-hop in century-old structures, tour the walled city of Intramuros, or ride around Corregidor Island, there is always an interesting story and a piece of history that the Philippines can share. From the datus and sultans in various parts of the archipelago, to the arrival of Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan and his Spanish fleet, to the galleon trade with Acapulco, to the American era and the Japanese invasion in World War II, the Philippines unfold many facets in history that makes it one of the world’s melting pot.

Historic Vigan.

Historic Vigan.

Remnants of WWII in Corregidor Island.

Remnants of WWII in Corregidor Island.

4. Underwater life

There is a different world down there. Dive or snorkel in the depths of Coron where you will find sunken ships and swimming tortoises. Have you found a natural cathedral in Anilao, Batangas? Swim with a school of fishes in Apo Island. Visit the giant clams in Camiguin. With waters surrounding the whole country, expect beautiful gardens hidden in its depths.

School of fish in Anilao, Batangas.

School of fish in Anilao, Batangas.

Colorful corals in Coron, Palawan.

Colorful corals in Coron, Palawan.

5. Breathtaking beaches

We have 7,107 islands and a coastline of 36,289 km, so expect thousands of beaches from north to south and east to west. Boracay is dubbed as one of the world’s beautiful beaches. But you can also roll on the sand bars of Bais or of Camiguin. The provinces of Bohol, Mindoro, Dapitan, Ilocos, Batangas, Camarines Sur, Cebu and Negros Occidental are some of the places with beautiful beaches, but there’s more that never made it to any list. These beaches, unfrequented by tourists, are the main attractions in this part of the world. Imagine fine, white sand and clear waters all to yourself. And, well, maybe with four or five other people. That’s what you call relaxation at its finest.

Fine sand in Boracay Island.

Fine sand in Boracay Island.

Dakak Beach in Dapitan.

Dakak Beach in Dapitan.

Honda Bay, Palawan.

Honda Bay, Palawan.

Sand bar in Bais, Negros Oriental.

Sand bar in Bais, Negros Oriental.

6. Natural wonders

Century-old rice terraces in Banaue, the Underground River in Palawan, the Chocolate Hills in Bohol, the perfect-cone shaped Mayon Volcano in Bicol, or the smallest volcano Taal in Batangas, there are several natural attractions that will keep you in awe of the wonders in the Philippines.

Underground River in Palawan.

Underground River in Palawan.

Chocolate Hills in Bohol.

Chocolate Hills in Bohol.

7. Artful transportation

Take the artistically-designed jeepneys in major cities or the paraws (boats) in Boracay or the vintas in Zamboanga and you’ll find that the Filipino’s love for art and color is just found everywhere. So hop on and enjoy the ride!

8. Beautiful flora and fauna

The Philippines is rich in natural beauty, especially when it comes to its flowers, plants and trees. In almost every household, you’ll find a natural garden kept within its yard. Antique has the largest flower in its forest. Davao has several beautiful orchids. Baguio honors these flowers through its Penagbenga festival. When you visit the Philippines, you’ll surely find time to stop and smell the roses.

A flaming red flower.

A flaming red flower.

Ming's Garden in Tagaytay.

Ming’s Garden in Tagaytay.

9. Amazing animals

Go to Bohol and you’ll be enamored by the tiny tarsier with its large cute eyes looking back at you. Dive in Sorsogon’s waters and be amazed by the gentle giants – the whale sharks – called Butandings. Dolphins are also everywhere, but they are best spotted in Bais. If you want to see the fierceness of the Philippine Eagle, you’ll find some of them in Davao. Have a fun day in Calauit Island and get up close with free-roaming giraffes, zebras, deers and other animals in its savannah.

Bohol's tarsier.

Bohol’s tarsier.

The dolphins in Bais.

The dolphins in Bais.

10. Religious devotions

What’s to watch out for in 2015 is the visit of Pope Francis in Manila and Tacloban. But apart from this much-awaited event, there are several other religious activities throughout the year that will take place in the Philippines. From Christian and Catholic feasts, such as that of the Black Nazarene in Manila, the Moriones in Marinduque, and, of course, the four-month long observance of the Christmas joy, including the 9-day dawn masses from December 16 to 24, to Islamic rites, to indigenous practices, the Filipinos will show you what faith means to them.

Giant lantern festival in Pampanga marks the early celebration of Christmas.

Giant lantern festival in Pampanga marks the early celebration of Christmas.

11. Great bargains

Markets in the Philippines are full of cheap buys and great finds. You can have a walking tour in Binondo and Divisoria, where very affordable goods are found. Little towns in far-flung areas still observe market day where locals troop to the market at this time of the week when the produce are brought to their locality.

A market in Sarangani.

A market in Sarangani.

12. Organic products

The Philippines, with its vast land and seas, is rich with organic produce. In Victorias City, Silay City and Kanlaon City, all in Negros Occidental, I have seen vegetables grown without the use of chemicals. Cashew nuts are aplenty in Coron, Palawan. Tagaytay is teeming with vegetable gardens with restaurants that have become tourist attractions. Every province, town, and city in the Philippines has an organic produce to offer.

Organic produce grown in Penalosa Farms in Victorias City.

Organic produce grown in Penalosa Farms in Victorias City.

Ready for a salad? This is the Fresh Start salad in Silay City.

Ready for a salad? This is the Fresh Start salad in Silay City.

13. Diverse menu

The Philippine street food is an interesting point for you to start getting a taste of the local flavor. Pampanga is known for its delectable food. Bacolod is a magnet to sweet lovers because of its delicious desserts. Cebu and probably almost every island in the Philippines are havens of sumptuous seafood dishes. Tour around the world and you’ll find so few Filipino cuisine. Well, we love to keep them to ourselves as we prefer them served in our homes, cooked by our mothers and grandmothers. Nevertheless, not finding Filipino cuisine elsewhere is the more reason for you to really visit the Philippines and feast on our food. Did I suggest that you try balut or dinuguan?

Kinilaw or raw fish soaked in vinegar and other spices.

Kinilaw or raw fish soaked in vinegar and other spices.

Suman and mangga or sticky rice with mango, a local dessert.

Suman and mangga or sticky rice with mango, a local dessert.

14. Wonderful music

The Philippines is a land of music lovers. Singing is our favorite past time. Probably, it is because nearly every babe in the Philippines has been lulled to sleep with a song. Almost everyone can carry a tune and a large populace can belt out high notes without so much effort. Stroll the beach of Zambales or the streets of Dumaguete and you’ll find a karaoke machine in one of those cottages or small stores. Major cities have videoke or KTV bars, now a favorite hangout place of friends for bonding and having fun.  We love to join or watch singing contests so it’s no wonder that even in the international scene, Filipino singers take the center stage.

Every one loves to sing. This foreigner can't help but join in the singing.

Every one loves to sing. This foreigner can’t help but join in the singing.

15. Talented individuals

Apart from singing, Filipinos have the talent, resourcefulness, and ability to shine in whatever field they belong. There’s boxing great Manny Pacquiao, singing superstars Lea Salonga, Apl de Ap, and Charice, and brilliant beauties Gloria Diaz, Margie Moran, Lara Quigaman, and Megan Young. Plus, many more names that I haven’t mentioned. Most of all, the Filipino has the spirit to rise above every challenge. You can just look at the residents of Leyte and Samar who survived typhoon Haiyan, or the millions of Filipinos worldwide who painstakingly do their work with their zeal and determination. We can take the example of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, who excelled in various fields and raised the bar of achievement, not just in our country but also in other shores.

Boxing champ Manny Pacquiao.

Boxing champ Manny Pacquiao.

The year 2015 is really a big year for our country. Apart from the Papal Visit, the Philippines is also hosting the APEC. Many hotels and attractions are opening. If you want to have a meaningful travel, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities for you where you can also help local communities.

When you come to the Philippines, you’d probably find 15 other reasons and more why you’d want to go back and have more fun in our country. And if you have visited Luzon, Palawan, or Boracay, there are 7,104 islands more waiting for your return.

My First Christmas Party with the Negros Bloggers

The microphone has been passed and it was my turn to belt it out in the videoke. Good thing I was surrounded by enjoyable and exciting individuals who share the same passion as I am – singing and blogging!

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It was my first-time to join the Christmas party of the Negros Bloggers, a small group of people who actively write about food, happenings, travels, and anything about Negros. After six months of being back in my home province, Negros Occidental, I must admit that I still see things from an outsider’s point of view, as if I am another traveller who happens to be caught in the web of the Negros charm. In fact, I try different restaurants each week, delighting on the various offerings metropolitan Bacolod (that includes Bacolod City, Talisay City, Silay City and Bago City) can offer.

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So there I was enjoying my night with this fun-loving people, who have become my new friends during my move back to our nest. We started the night having delectable steak food at Balboa’s Restaurant, located at Mayfair along Lacson St., which was also one of our sponsors for this special gathering.

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After great talk about life in the 80’s and 90’s, we walked a block away to Gourmandz Burger and Pasta where the KTV event would be happening. By the way, I gulped a portion of their huge burger, which I thought I would only see on TV shows.

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The items laid out before us made our party extra exciting – wines, food items, canned goods, Christmas decors, foldable fans, gift certificates – the table was just overflowing with gifts and prizes.

Thanks to our major sponsrs: E. GATANELA REALTY CO.; Merzci; Experience Negros; QUAN Delicacies; Victorias Foods Corporation; Munsterific Grab N Go; The Cocoon – L’Fisher Hotel; Bacolod Cupcake Cafe Inc.; Fresh Start Organic; and Viaje Negrense.

We are also thankful to other partners who contributed: SM City Bacolod; 21 Restaurant; Balboa Restaurant; Grand Royal Spa Bacolod; Innové Grafx by Wilmar Enterprises; BongBong’s Piaya and Barquillos; Spa Natura; O’Fisher Spa; 27th Bascon; and Jojo Vito Designs Gallery.

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More than the gift packs, it was the camaraderie that I truly enjoyed as the Negros Bloggers have become like a second family. They have helped me settle back home, ushering me to places and things I have never known that existed before right at the doorstep of my own hometown. And when you plan to travel to the Negros Island, you’ll find that these bloggers’ posts will be your guide. Just check out our site to know more about our group.

So there I was belting the song “Alone”, ironic that I was surrounded by a company of great people. With a score of 100, I got a wine courtesy of Munsterific Grab N Go.

 

Other photos courtesy of Sigrid Lo and Dhadha Garcia.

Who’s flashing the Hot Now sign in Bacolod

The neon light has finally come into life and the “Hot Now” sign is now turned on. Yes, the most awaited moment has arrived! Krispy Kreme has finally landed in the City of Smiles, Bacolod City — the Sugarlandia!

The "Hot Now" sign is on.

The “Hot Now” sign is on.

Though the long wait is over, people lined up the day before it opened to grab the most coveted prize of a year supply of fresh donuts!

Newly opened store in Bacolod.

Newly opened store in Bacolod.

I wasn’t fortunate to be in SM Bacolod on the 6th of December due to a family emergency. My special brother was confined in the hospital but at 7:00am that day, the nurse who checked on my brother noticed the Krispy Kreme bag and box of donuts that we brought with us. He asked if the store has finally opened and we told him that at 10:00am, Krispy Kreme will open its doors in Bacolod. He was confused.

I explained that I had the opportunity to be one of those who were given the first glimpse of the Krispy Kreme store with commissary. It was a fun experience watching the donuts being backed fresh!

1. Fresh doughs on their way to be baked.

1. Fresh dough on their way to be baked.

2. Baked donuts, unglazed.

2. Baked donuts, unglazed.

3. The white curtain like thing is the glaze. :)

3. The white curtain like thing is the glaze. :)

4. Still on the glazing process.

4. Still on the glazing process.

There goes the Krispy Kreme original glazed donuts.

There goes the Krispy Kreme original glazed donuts.

Me surrounded by these delectable donuts.

Me surrounded by these delectable donuts.

Customize and decorate your donut!

Customize and decorate your donut!

Take your pick.

Take your pick.

Won't you like to give this as a sweet gift this Christmas?

Won’t you like to give this as a sweet gift this Christmas?

 

Beach-ready with artistic flip-flops

In a tropical country like the Philippines, flip-flops are part of the common staple among Filipino households. Whether one lives near the sea or in the mountains, he or she will always wear this kind of slippers around the house or when visiting neighbors or the market nearby.

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But with the advent of Havaianas, flip-flops have become more of a fashion statement, where people don them around malls or in the grocery store. I remember bringing pairs of flip flops on a Hong Kong trip one sunny April morning. I bring a pair wherever I go, and this time, knowing there will be lots of walking around, I brought some extra pairs. Lo and behold, it was not sunny at all in Hong Kong; not in the next four days that we were there.

Still, I always have my pair of Havaianas in my luggage, whether I go for a business trip or to backpack with friends.

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When I was told that Havaianas would be unveiling its new designs in its Bacolod store in SM’s newly opened North Wing, I excitedly headed to the by-invitation-only event.

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The beautiful designs were made by no less than Internationally-Acclaimed Designer Francis Libiran, whom I had the privilege to know personally when I worked in Manila Hotel. I was not yet employed in Manila Hotel when it celebrated its 100th year which was highlighted by a wonderful fashion show in its lobby showcasing the 100 creations of Francis Libiran. But even after the event, and when I came on board, I still had meetings with the humble and unassuming Francis along with his team.

Libiran (2nd from right) with his friends and this blogger's (3rd from left) former colleagues at the Manila Hotel.

Libiran (2nd from right) with his friends and this blogger’s (3rd from left) former colleagues at the Manila Hotel.

An architect by profession, Francis developed his love for fashion at the tender age of eight. He has a meticulous eye for detail, which is evident in his intricate, ethereal designs that have graced countless red carpets, pageant stages, and fashion editorials.

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This year, Libiran’s considerable talent has been tapped by global brand Havaianas for a new collection that puts the Philippine artist firmly in the pantheon of international designers, brands and personalities, who have collaborated with the iconic footwear company for its sought-after limited edition releases. He now joins the ranks of Missoni, Bassike, Valentino, and Michael Bastian, iconic names that Havaianas has worked with.

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His three designs, each evocative of the different facets of Filipino culture are: the City pair showcases hints of popular culture in the Philippines as expressed through one of the country’s most iconic symbols; the Festival pair (the one I have!) embodies the vibrance of Philippines’ various festivals, celebrations, and color (seems like Masskara festival to me); and the Island pair which is inspired by the fusion of various design elements pulled from the country’s multicultural background.

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Francis, who is very ecstatic about this project, says, “Flip-flops are ingrained in the Philippine culture, so I could only imagine the statement my designs would make on them. Because people use them everyday, I thought some people would question why they would be so designed, because they’re just flip-flops, but for me, it’s about creating wearable pieces of art.”

Hear, hear, Francis. I would be proud to wear it next time I go on a trip, especially if it’s a trip abroad. I’d gladly have this badge of beautiful Filipino art bearing a global name in my travel wear checklist.

This photo is courtesy of Dhadha Garcia of http://www.dhagarcia.com/.

This photo is courtesy of Dhadha Garcia of http://www.dhagarcia.com/.

D Vitamin from Travelling

What do you get out of travelling?

1. Additional learnings
2. New friends
3. Fun experiences
4. and vitamin D!

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When you hit the beach or the pool, don’t you soak yourself under the sun? When you climb hills, when you trek on mountains, don’t you kiss the sun that is so close to where you stand? When you traverse around streets and alleys, don’t you absorb some of the sun’s rays as well?

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Romblon_ClaireA (132)

Yes, traveling gets you out of your cubicles and homes and let you out in the open!

But, I must confess, that though I love the outdoors and travel to new shores, I am not a big fan of the sun. I always keep myself under the shade to prevent the prickly heat of the sun’s rays. And when I don’t travel, I am always cooped inside my office space or in the comforts of my house.

So, yes, I am one of those who may probably be vitamin D-deficient, which may pose serious health risks. Good thing that Unilab recently commissioned a study on the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, and found that 53% of its 118 test participants were found to be lacking with enough vitamin D.

It was Hi-Precision Diagnostics, a licensed medical facility under the Department of Health and backed by Unilab, which carried out the collection, assessment, and interpretation of the blood samples derived from the participants. Following international laboratory standards, a 30 ng/ml level of vitamin D was considered the baseline for all tests. Those who registered below said level were deemed vitamin D deficient.

Dr. Alejandro Diaz.

Dr. Alejandro Diaz.

“Staying indoors for most parts of the day, habitually wearing long-sleeved clothing and slacks or pants, using too much sunscreen, and eating barely enough vitamin D-rich foods are just some of the factors that lead to vitamin D deficiency,” said Dr. Alejandro Diaz of the Philippine Neurological Association.

“Melanin, while serving as a protective barrier for the skin against ultraviolet (UV) light, also works to block the sun’s rays, which is needed to activate vitamin D in the body. Studies have proven that there is a direct correlation between melanin levels and vitamin D production, with melanin affecting the skin’s ability to synthesize vitamin D. Thus the darker the skin, the less vitamin D is produced,” added Dr. Diaz.

Uh-oh. So, that means I need to go out more and expose myself under the sun? That means more travels!

The good thing is that even when you head to the Arctic region or cold and dark places where the sun never shines all year round (unlike in the Philippines), Unilab has come up with Forti-D, the latest vitamin D supplement, a single-dose supplement that contains 800 IU of vitamin D3. Also known as colecalciferol, vitamin D3 impacts one’s over-all health.

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“Taking one capsule of Forti-D every day helps reduce the risk of getting chronic diseases by unlocking the proper function of organs typically affected by such illnesses,” emphasized Alex Panlilio, Unilab VP for consumer health.

In the meantime, while I’m mostly indoors, I have to rely on Forti-D for my vitamin D, and plan when I can head to the beach.

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