Monday, July 30, 2012

Sri Lanka: Esala Perahera Festival 2012 in the Sacred City of Kandy

When I booked my flights to Sri Lanka late last year, I hadn't the slightest clue that the dates I had selected were during Esala Perahera 2012 in the Sacred City of Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Esaha Perahera is the grandest Buddhist procession of Sri Lanka where the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha is displayed and brought around Kandy in several nightly processions in July and August with much pomp and pageantry.

The procession during the first night of Randoli Parahera lasted almost three hours with hundreds of dancers, musicians and participants, and dozens of elephants in ceremonial robes with lights. In the photo, an elephant (tusker) carries the Ransivige, a golden casket containing the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha. As it passes by, the seated crowd stands up in respect and prayer. Watch out for posts on Sri Lanka. In the meantime, check out more photos @ivanhenares in Instagram.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kicking off Mabuhay Miles’ 10th anniversary

Php100,000 and 100,000 Mabuhay Miles from PNB and Allied Bank's My Perfect Ten Buy

Mabuhay Miles MasterCard is giving away hundreds of thousand pesos and hundreds of thousand Mabuhay Miles! What a way to kick off Mabuhay Miles' 10th anniversary.

With the My Perfect 10 Buy promo, one can win as much as Php100,000 and 100,000 Mabuhay Miles. It’s very simple, just share with us on video a very meaningful purchase and let us know why it’s so significant.

To join the contest, simply follow these instructions: 1) Go to and 'like' the Mabuhay Miles MasterCard Facebook page; 2) Launch the “My Perfect 10 Buy” application tab; 3) Fill in the registration form; 4) Read the mechanics; and 5) Submit a 30-second to two-minute video sharing your most valuable purchase through Mabuhay Miles MasterCard. It’s very easy. Check-out how Mark Cahatol and other cardholders did their videos at

Make sure to invite your friend to view your video entry and rate it. The more video entries you submit, the more chances of winning. Just remember to feature different purchases and products in every video.

Ten (10) winners will be picked from all the entries. The top three (3) winning entries will receive the amount of the purchased item or P100,000 (whichever is lower) plus 100,000 Mabuhay Miles. The fourth to sixth winning entries shall receive the amount of the purchased item or P50,000 (whichever is lower) plus 50,000 Mabuhay Miles. The seventh to ninth winning entries shall receive the amount of the purchased item or P30,000 (whichever is lower) plus 30,000 Mabuhay Miles. The tenth winning entry shall receive the amount of the purchased item or P10,000 (whichever is lower) plus 10,000 Mabuhay Miles. All prizes shall be credited to the winner’s Allied Bank/PNB Mabuhay Miles MasterCard. Miles are non-transferable and not convertible to cash.

For more information on promo guidelines, visit the Mabuhay Miles MasterCard Facebook page. This nationwide promo is open to all Mabuhay Miles MasterCard cardholders and will run until August 15, 2012 only.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Taiwan: Food trip in Taipei's Shilin Night Market

Back to my Taiwan trip last June. After checking-in, we went straight to the Shilin Night Market for some shopping. Taipei has a very distinct night market subculture. It's a place where you can meet up with friends or spend some idle time with the various activities there. But I was more excited with the hawker food which Taipei's night markets are very known for.

We went straight to business and went on a food tasting spree. Like in previous trips, I had to have stinky tofu! The oyster pancakes are good as well. And make sure to try the fried chicken patties at the entrance of the market. I'll let the photos do the talking. If you're in Taipei, make sure to try out the food at the various night markets.

Thank you to EVA Airways and Jeron Travel for inviting me to join their familiarization tour to Taiwan. More on Taiwan in the next few weeks, particularly the spectacular Taroko Gorge and Hualien.

In the meantime, check out my photos of Taipei in the Ivan About Town FB page.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bloggers contest for Bangong Padala ng Tide with Downy

We are all aware of the sad reality of families separated due to economic needs, husband working away from his wife and his family or vice versa. How do these couples keep their love long-lasting?

Tide with Downy invited couples to share their love stories and photos exemplifying their love that lasts even though they are separated by distance. The top 100 with the best love stories were given the chance to send a package to their loved ones. These packages were sent domestically, and some even went overseas!

Out of the hundreds of love stories, Tide with Downy chose three couples with the best love stories, and I personally delivered these three Tide with Downy Bangong Padala packages to their homes, located all over the country. Check out the video here:

Touching isn't it? So we want to know what you think about long lasting relationships! Tell us and you may get a chance to win cash prizes and Bangong Padala packages from Tide with Downy. Below are the mechanics of the contest:

1. This contest is open to ALL bloggers.

2. Contest period is from July 16 to 29, 2012.

3. Make sure to watch the Tide with Downy Bangong Padala video entitled “Pag-ibig na Pangmatagalan”:

4. Write a blog entry with the following proposed topics:
  • What do you think is the secret to a long-lasting relationship?
  • Share your own love stories, showing how your relationships stays strong despite hindrances and hardships
  • What is your greatest sacrifice for a loved one to make him/her feel more loved?
5. At the end of your article, embed the video and invite your readers to watch and share the Tide with Downy Bangong Padala video entitled “Pag-ibig na Pangmatagalan”

6. Be as creative as you can be by including photos, videos, etc. depicting love that lasts long amidst the distance in your blog entry.

7. Send the title and the link of your blog post to Please include in the email message your Complete Name, Age, Address and Contact numbers (Mobile and Landline).

8. Blog entries should not contain obscene, malicious, offensive or disparaging language/visuals directed to Tide or to any other person or entity.

9. One (1) grand winner and one (1) runner-up will be determined based on a panel of judges from Tide. Entries will be judged according to the following criteria:
  • Creativity – 40%
  • Relevance – 30%
  • Appeal – 30%
10. The winners will be notified by email, including how they will claim their prize.

11. The winners will receive the following:
  • Grand winner: Php 5,000 and two (2) Tide with Downy Bangong Padala packages (1 for the winner, and a chance to send the other package to a loved one)
  • 1st Runner up: Php 4,000 and Tide with Downy Bangong Padala package
12. Tide product prizes are not transferable or convertible to cash.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Traveling the distance to bridge relationships

Things can get really difficult here in the Philippines. It's hard to make ends meet, especially if you have families to feed. Having a family means a lot of responsibilities. And we all know that many are forced to live and work far from their families in order to provide a better future for them. That is the dilemma many husbands and wives face, whether to live together but without a clear future due to trying times, or to accept the need to find greener pastures, forced by circumstances to be separated by distance, in order to provide a brighter future for the family, especially the children.

In these times that the family breadwinner is away and alone, memories of home can serve as vital nourishment for the soul. Family photographs, messages from home, familiar sights, sounds and even scents can remind separated individuals of home and of special memories. Maybe a smell of home-cooked meal or that of freshly-washed clothes with the same scent the wife uses at home, Tide with Downy perhaps.

Yes, the whiteness and freshness of clothes washed with Tide with Downy can last for up to 7 days. So no matter how far and long the journey of the washed clothes are, its scent remains fresh with the scent of Tide with Downy. I saw (and smelled) that for myself early this month when I traveled far and wide to deliver packages from Tide with Downy.

When I heard about the Tide with Downy Bangong Padala campaign, and that they wanted a travel blogger to deliver their packages and bridge distance relationships, I immediately agreed when they extended the invitation.

Tide thought of a way of reaching out to couples who are separated by distance. The public was invited to share their special long distance love stories to the campaign. Everyone who sent their story got the opportunity to send a special package to their loved one. There were hundreds of love stories sent and received by the campaign. And out of the hundreds that were sent, Tide eventually picked three that stood out.

In the next few days, I will share these stories with you. I traveled far to meet the people behind these stories. This is where my journey begins. Enjoy the video!

Taiwan: Wufenpu Clothes Market & Din Tai Fung at Taipei 101

The prospect of flying back to Taiwan for a few days was exciting. It's one of those destinations I savor, quite literally in fact because of the delicious street food! EVA Airways had invited me to explore Taiwan together with other travel bloggers and writers. And who was I to refuse, especially since we were visiting Taroko Gorge and Hualien!

After the quick check-in at NAIA Terminal 1, we relaxed a bit at the lounge before boarding our EVA Air flight to Taipei. It was a lunch flight and we arrived late in the afternoon. As soon as we cleared the usual airport arrival procedures in Taoyuan International Airport, we immediately proceeded to the Wufenpu Clothes Market 五分埔時尚購物通, the largest clothing market in Taipei and our first stop for the tour.

It's paradise for those looking for value for money clothes and accessories. And one can spend a whole day just walking around and looking for the latest trends at a bargain. But we only had an hour to spend. If you want to check out the market when you visit Taipei, the nearest stations to Wufenpu are the TRA Songshan Station and the Taipei Metro Houshanpi Station.

But I'm really not the shopping type. So it was nice to see a Taoist temple in the market area while walking around, at least a little bit of traditional culture there.

By now, we were getting hungry. And there's no better place to have dinner than in Din Tai Fung! My mouth was watering at the thought of having Xiao Long Bao for dinner. So I just couldn't wait. We were eating at the Taipei 101 branch.

And I was not disappointed. It was bun and dumpling overload that night. Plus of course other favorites like their tofu appetizer which I just love! We were served other kinds of dumplings and buns that night, I forgot to take note of what else we had and enjoyed the feast.

Before proceeding to the Shilin Night Market, we first checked-in at the Palais de Chine Hotel which I noticed was smack in the center of Taipei's transportation hub, with the bus terminal right beside it and the Taipei Main Train Station just a mere five minutes walk away.

And the rooms were spacious, modern and very cozy, perfect for the business traveler. The only thing I don't like about tours is that we don't get to enjoy the hotel much. As soon as we were settled, we rushed to the Shilin Night Market. Se more photos of Taipei, Taiwan in the Ivan About Town FB page.

Palais de Chine Hotel Taipei 
No. 3 Sec. 1 Chengde Road Taipei 103 Taiwan 
Tel. No. +866 (2) 21819999 
Fax No. +866 (2) 21819988

Many thanks to EVA Airways and Jeron Travel and Tours for arranging this trip to Taiwan!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Remember the Jai Alai!

In a few days from now, we will remember a day that has lived in infamy in the city of Manila. It was on July 15, 2000 that Mayor Lito Atienza ordered the demolition of one of the finest Art Deco buildings in Asia, the Jai Alai Building. Twelve years after, heritage advocates still remember this painful episode, but have been steadfast in the fight to preserve what is left of our country's heritage as a result.

We should not demolish significant heritage structures because it will destroy the character of our cities. And that is tantamount to erasing our own nation's soul.

Let's all remember the Jai Alai! Let's learn from the lessons of history and ensure that we continue to pass on our heritage to future generations of Filipinos!

Read more about the Jai Alai demolition from an old Asiaweek article The Game's Over: A link with the past goes as Manila's Jai Alai stadium is torn down.
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