Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Manila: Binondo food trip on Chinese New Year! Kiong Hee Huat Tsai!

Chinese New Year is just around the corner. Happy Lunar New Year! 新年快樂! And as our Tsinoy friends would greet people, Kiong Hee Huat Tsai! 恭喜發財! Of course, the best way to celebrate is to visit Binondo and go on a wild food trip! Too bad I'll miss the festivities this year since I'll be on the road. But I definitely had fun last year, especially after nibbling our way through Chinatown.

We visited Dong Bei Dumplings, President Tea House, New Po-Heng Lumpia House, several hole-in-the-wall establishments, and a new restaurant. We also took home some hopia and other delicacies from Ho-Land. Anyway, I'll let the photos do all the talking. Yummy!

If you want a guided food tour of Chinatown this weekend, book a slot (if there are still slots available) on the Big Binondo Food Wok (Chinese New Year Edition) of Old Manila Walks on January 21 (Saturday) 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; January 22 (Sunday) 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m.; and January 23 (Monday) 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. E-mail for reservations.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Start 2012 with Tropicana Twister's new flavors! Drink to the New Year with a perfect twist!

Tropicana Twister has two new blends to start the year. Let’s welcome 2012 with Trop’s new flavors! Apple-Lemon is a blend of apple, white grape, pear, peach, kumquat and lemon. Red Fusion is a mix of apple, pomegranate, red grape, purple sweet potato and peach.

Both drinks are unique, with real juice from real fruits! You can get them in 355ml and 1L bottles at your local supermarkets and grocery stores. Note that the mixed juice drinks are offered at a limited time only, just for the first few months of the year. So get them while supplies last and drink to the New Year with a perfect twist.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

South Korea: Daejeon, Seoul & Muju

I was in South Korea just last week, together with students of the UP Asian Institute of Tourism, to attend the Woosong Winter Culture Camp 2012 in Daejon. While there is not much to see in Daejeon, it was a culturally-enriching seven days thanks to the program designed by Woosong University, sessions which included Korean language, hanbok, food and even K-pop.

Part of the trip included visits to Seoul and the Deogyusan Ski Resort in Muju. In Seoul, we visited the Changdeokgung Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Insadong, the N Seoul Tower and Myeongdong. Here are photos from the Woosong Winter Culture Camp 2012:

January 2-7 - Daejeon, South Korea
January 3 - Seoul, South Korea
January 5 - Muju, South Korea

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Manila: A walk through UST (University of Santo Tomas)

Since we're both named Ivan, people often mistake my tokayo for the blogger and me for the Old Manila Walks tour guide. We have the same interests when it comes to travel, that's obviously architectural heritage. In fact, we both visited Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras this summer. We've collaborated on a lot of stuff, including Ultimate Philippines Tours. Now we've decided to bring my tokayo's own travels to you through Ivan About Town. I'd like to introduce our first resident co-blogger, Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks.

The University of Santo Tomas sits right in the heart of busy Sampaloc district in Manila. This campus is a true urban oasis in this densely populated part of the city. Founded in 1611, U.S.T. lays claim to being the oldest university in the Philippines and the school grounds is replete with notable landmarks to guide you through the institution's 400 year history.

There is no better time to explore this historic complex as the school caps-off its fourth centenary celebration. And the best way to do so is on foot. Coming from busy Espana Boulevard, one immediately leaves frenetic street traffic; and upon entering the campus, is welcomed by the Arch of Centuries. This university landmark is one of the few relics left from original Intramuros campus which was destroyed during WWII. It was transferred and reconstructed to its current site in 1955 and today symbolizes UST's role as a "gateway in history to the finest breed of Filipinos." From here, a pleasant stroll down shady the walkway leads one to the Benavides Monument, another remnant from the original campus. Cast in 1891, it honors the school's founder Fray Miguel de Benavides, OP. If you look at floor at the back of the statue, there is a huge Chinese tombstone on the floor dating back to the 19th century.

A few steps up and one is now at the Plaza Mayor which is dominated by the majestic Main Building. Easily one of the most famous structures on campus, this landmark building was built in 1927 and was once an internment camp for Allied POWs during WWII. Today, it houses the Museum of Arts and Sciences, the oldest in the country (established in 1871) and holds an eclectic collection of ethnographic, historical, natural and artistic exhibits including two-headed animals! Just recently, the museum also re-inaugurated its Visual Arts Gallery where on can admire works by prominent historical artists such as Juan Arceo, Galo Ocampo, Carlos Botong Francisco and Fernando Amorsolo to name a few.

Immediately west of the Main Building is the Botanical Garden and the Central Seminary (built in 1933) which houses the Santissimo Rosario parish, drop by to admire its classic Art-Deco interiors. Cap-off your tour of the campus at the Quadricentennial Square at the back of Main Building. This delightful open space facing the Benavides Library features an interactive dancing fountain with a sculptural centerpiece called Tetraglobal by glass sculptor Ramon Orlina. Modeled by UST almuni Piolo Pascual and Charlene Gonzalez, this modern sculpture commemorates UST's four centuries of educational legacy and is a fitting end to your walking tour.

Conceptualized, manufactured, bred and educated in the city of Manila, Ivan Man Dy is the feet behind Old Manila Walks. When he's not busy doing is first love (running his walks and talking about Manila), Ivan shifts to his second passion (traveling) and takes to small towns, big cities and occasionally the great outdoors. He dabbles as freelance features and travel writer to major dailies and has done occasional TV appearances. Now, if only he can host his own travel show. Before he finally took to the streets, he was an active museum guide as well as a staunch heritage preservation activist. Now, he has found his calling being seasoned urbanite, a self-designated life-long citizen and ambassador of Manila. Since 2005, he has led the thousands of happy walking hordes down his city's most historic quarters. Four years on and countless calluses later, he is still loving every step of the way.

Ifugao: Plant rice at the Mayoyao Rice Terraces! Pfukhay ad Majawjaw 2012!

The Pochon Group is once again inviting everyone to join the Pfukhay ad Majawjaw (rice planting in Mayoyao) to be held from January 20-22, 2012 at Barangay Bongan, Mayoyao, Ifugao. This activity will be hosted by the Pochon and Maanichar Centennial Batch Association (Pochon Group) and the community of Barangay Bongan. Other partner organizations include the Mayoyao Tourguides and Indigenous Knowledge Holders Allied Organization (MATIKHAO) and the Akha’kha-emeh Cultural Performing Group.

During the tour, participants get to plant rice in the rice terraces, watch a cultural presentation showcasing the local dances of Mayoyao, learn how the traditional Mayoyao house is contructed and many more. Homestay accommodation will also be offered on the second night of the tour (January 21).

Tour cost is Php3,900 and includes meals, accommodation, transportation within Ifugao and activities. It does not include transportation from Manila to Santiago, Isabela; and from Banaue, Ifugao to Manila. Add Php450 to your deposit so Pochon can do the Banaue-Manila reservation for you. Contact Josh Nalliw at or +639065308242 for inquiries.

January 19, 2012 (Thursday)
9:00 p.m. - Depart Manila via Victory Liner Bus, Kamias/Kamuning Terminal (purchase your own ticket to Santiago, Isabela)

January 20, 2012 (Friday)
5:00 a.m. - Arrive at Santiago City (Victory Liner Terminal)
- Travel to Mayoyao via the Ifugao towns of Aguinaldo and Alfonso Lista (Pochon Group will be waiting at the terminal)
6:30 a.m. - Breakfast at Ubao, Aguinaldo, Ifugao
10 a.m. - Arrive at Mayoyao, Ifugao (room assignments and rest)
12:00 noon - Lunch at the lodge
1:00 p.m. - Orientation followed by visit to Akakoy Nature Park, demo on native house construction and visit the Mayoyao Museum
5:00 p.m. - Roaming around the town plaza and shopping for souvenirs
7:00 p.m. - Dinner at the lodge

January 21, 2012 (Saturday)
7:00 a.m. - Breakfast at the lodge (pack things for transfer to homestays later in the day)
8:00 a.m. - Proceed to Barangay Bongan and join the rice planting
12:00 noon - Lunch with the community
1:00 p.m. - Trek to Abfo’or burial tomb and down to Mapawoy Rice Terraces Cluster
5:00 p.m. - Homestay assignments
7:00 p.m. - Dinner with respective host families
8:00 p.m. - Cultural presentation

January 22, 2012 (Sunday)
7:00 a.m. - Breakfast (pack-up for trip to Banaue)
8:30 a.m. - Visit to Chu’it Viewpoint
10:00 a.m. - Travel to Banaue
12:00 noon - Lunch
3:00 p.m. - Arrival at Banaue, Ifugao (free time)
8:00 p.m. - Depart for Manila via Florida Bus Liner

January 23, 2012 (Monday)
Between 4 to 5 a.m. - Arrival in Manila, Florida Bus Terminal, Lacson St. cor. Espana Avenue, Sampaloc, Manila

For more information on the tour, read Rice planting experience in Mayoyao, Ifugao.

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