Nov 20, 2011 by

MACKY MONTEBLANCO 1. What is the most memorable trip you have ever made? Which place did you go to and when was this? It’s hard to pick the MOST memorable trip I ever made; it’s a tossup between the first vacation trip that I can remember, and the most recent trip. The first vacation trip that I have a recollection of was the first time I went to Boracay. It was a family summer outing and Boracay still wasn’t a party island destination. I don’t remember how old I was or all the details of that trip but I remember the white sand, the clear, clear blue water and the really, really long trip where I felt sick. The most recent trip was the trip to Sagada with a stopover in Banaue to see the Rice Terraces, just this October. 2. Why is that particular trip memorable? First time in Boracay is memorable because it’s the first trip that I can remember distinctly making, and the beach! I still have the picture of that Boracay in my head, and all the beaches I go to is judged by that memory of pristine white sand and blue waters. Banaue-Sagada is memorable because I got to see the Rice Terraces, which is still postcard perfect, and I got to go spelunking in Sagada, going down to almost 400 feet. 3. What particular aspect of that trip did you find most exciting? What about the least exciting aspect? I pretty much love to travel, so I get pretty excited about the whole thing easily, but probably the most exciting part of both trips is getting there and going around that place for the first time, taking in the different sights. For Banaue-Sagada, it was taking in the sights of the Rice Terraces, and slipping, sliding and crawling to almost 400ft below the ground in Sumaguing Cave Least exciting is spending hours and hours in the bus. My first ever Boracay trip I can remember all the twists and turns and the bumpy roads, going to sleep and waking up wondering if we were there yet. The trip to Sagada was especially long. It normally takes 9 hours from Manila, but parts of the national highway in Bulacan or Nueva Viscaya was under construction or repair. I would fall asleep, wake up minutes later and we were still in the same spot. 9 hours became almost 13hours of travel. 4. If there’s one place you’d like to visit (that you haven’t been to yet), what is it and why? I’d like to go around the Philippines more. ‘Wag maging dayuhan sa sariling bayan’, and all that. It’s a long checklist of places I haven’t been to yet but on top of that list is Batanes, it’s so different, yet still part of the Philippines. I’d like to see the beaches, the architecture, the lighthouses, the mountains and valleys.

Macky overlooking the rice terraces


I am a blessed travelling preschool teacher!

Among the God-blessed places I have visited (local and abroad), Sagada remains to be my favorite. I got to visit the place last March 2009 with my co-teachers for our annual Summer Trip. The relatively extreme cold air but a warm sunshine made the trip quite distinct. Sagada is the only place where I wore warmers and applied sun block lotion as well. Also, the warm nature of the locals is the kind you want to meet in every place you visit. Spelunking in the Sumaguing Cave, the three-hour trek (back-and-forth) to Bomod-ok Falls, the pottery experience, and spending my birthday that year in Sagada were just some of the new and different experiences that made the trip very exciting. In addition, as the place is naturally cold, I discovered how to take a bath in the most efficient time possible. It was also the trip where I think what made by backpack quite heavy were warmers: from sweaters, sarongs, socks, to bonnets. Although Sagada stays on my wish list (I feel I have an unfinished romance with the place), I someday want to step foot on Machu Picchu in Peru, and visit Easter Island in Chile.

Mae gets covered by fog

SUSAN ALVAREZ-TOSALEM Hanoi, Vietnam will always be unforgettable because it gave me many “first” experiences. I (along with Dulce, a colleague) went there on January 14-16, 2010 to facilitate a workshop for our Temasek project. Flying to Hanoi and back was already exhausting since it was via Singapore, where we stayed for a few hours only, before taking another 3-hour flight to Hanoi, along with three colleagues from Singapore and another one from Indonesia. The flight to Hanoi was equally memorable because it was the worst I’ve experienced. The flight attendant was not exactly fragrant, and the seats were so hard and uncomfortable. When we reached Noi Bai Airport, we also had to take a 1-hour ride to our hotel, and all six of us had to squeeze inside a small taxi. Oh it was one hell of a budget trip indeed! Hanoi gave me many “first” experiences – first winter, first time to actually hold more than 1 million (Dong), first time to be shooed away from a store by the vendor, first time to feel that crossing the street was a matter of life and death, first time to see soooo many motorcycles on the street (they actually outnumbered the cars/buses!), and first time to experience helpless that I speak English (because most Vietnamese don’t speak the language). The most exciting part of that trip was the food. Vietnamese food is really special and incomparable to other Asian cuisines. It really has a distinct flavor, from coffee, to pho to spring rolls. They also had the most amazing buffet which featured hundreds of extraordinary dishes. The sad part though was you can’t really try all the food. : ( Being asked by the hotel concierge to surrender our passports for the duration of our stay was a bit scary. The immigration officials at the airport were not that friendly too, and they wore uniforms that were very reminiscent of Vietnam’s communist heydays. I never stop dreaming that someday I’ll be able to travel all over Europe. I want to visit France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and the UK, among others. Many people travel because they want to see the buildings, try the food, and meet new people. For me, travelling is like taking a journey to self-discovery. You venture to unknown places and mingle with strangers. In the process, you get to know yourself better – what you’re capable and most afraid of. In a different country, I feel that I can easily shed off pretenses… I get to experience what it feels like to be “free”.

Susan at Hoan Kiem Lake

Eliseo Fernandez Vargas, Jr. 1. What is the most memorable trip you ever made? Which place did you go to and when? The first time I went abroad. I went to Japan with my family. It was last April 2010. My family is based in Toyohashi-Shi, a city south of near Nagoya. My city is in the central part of Japan. 2. Why is this particular trip memorable? Every part of my trip was very memorable. Let’s start with my way to Manila. I traveled alone, and because of reluctance to leave “some people”, I absentmindedly drank with them and was left by my flight. The first time in my experience, and thus comes the “mulay sang iloy” (mom-scolding). I took the first flight the next morning and went to Japanese Embassy with my spirit left in the mountains. When we arrived in Chubu Centrair International Airport, I felt like I was in another planet. Everything and everyone is just organized. Everything in this country is synchronized, especially when it comes to time. Every service has synchronized time: From public vehicles like buses, trains, street cars, to malls. And for the first time in three years, the whole family is complete (except for my heart, which was left in Iloilo). 3. What particular aspect of that trip did you find most exciting? What about the least exciting aspect? We went to a zoo nearby. I was shocked that the zoo is as wide as UPV Miagao Campus (literally!) and that it has in display, real tigers, lions, elephants, hippopotamus, all types of monkeys, and the very cute penguins! Least exciting is the times, I am just at home and has nothing to do but think of… errr… HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED! 3.If there’s one place you’d like to visit (that you haven’t been to yet), what is it and why? EUROPE. Yes in all CAPS. I can’t die if I haven’t visit Europe yet. Every country in Europe is like humans’ bridge to Gods and Goddesses.

BawBaw goes to Japan. And has since lived there.

PJ Zuluaga-Maquiling

Whenever asked what I would do if I had heaps of extra money, I would always answer — travel. I enjoy going to different places. Seeing how things are done differently, eating food I don’t normally find around here, getting a personal encounter of how people are and getting up-close with things I only see in books, (not to mention having tons of photos taken) these are the reasons why I like to go to different places.

1. What is the most memorable trip you have ever made? Which place did you go to and when was this? Most, if not all, of the trips I’ve ever made are memorable. If not for the beautiful sights, then definitely for the shared memories with people I hold dearest to me. If I were to pick the most memorable, I cannot pick just one. I can, however, name three that stand out more than the rest: my trip to Singapore, and our family trips to Subic Ocean Adventure and to Hong Kong. 2. Why is that particular trip memorable? Going to Hong Kong is the first and only trip we’ve ever made outside the Philippines as a whole family. We managed to go to HK Disneyland, Ocean Park, the Peak and had time to go around because we stayed there for almost a week. Seeing my son take in the different culture and try out everything we came across, made me feel really content and happy. The other two trips I mentioned are made memorable mainly because of animals. Yep, I am such an animal lover. One of my all-time favorite animals is the dolphin. When we went to Ocean Adventure in Subic, my son got to go and swim with the dolphins (of course, I wanted to jump in too!! But it was expensive!) and seeing him not afraid at all and having so much fun was like me getting part of what I have always dreamed of. As for my Singapore trip, I loved everything about Singapore but let me just say I was absolutely star-struck when I saw the penguins and the flamingos and that made Singapore a favorite. 3. What particular aspect of that trip did you find most exciting? What about the least exciting aspect? Being in new places is always exciting. New transportation systems and new food, whether they end up pleasing or not, make it an experience worth having. I always get motion-sickness, though, so that is what I hate about going on trips. I have to have “doggie bags” ready all the time just in case and I have to allot time to lie down upon arrival just to get my tummy and head in-sync with the rest of my body. 4. If there’s one place you’d like to visit (that you haven’t been to yet), what is it and why? One place? Just one? That’s a tough one! It would have to be “Italyromeparisegypt”. ;)

PJ with her family


  1. What is the most memorable trip you have ever taken? Which place did you go to and when was this?

“Vegas, baby… Vegas!” This line says it all, I believe, and it evokes a myriad of fond memories. I’ve been to Las Vegas, Nevada only twice. First, in 2000 where I celebrated my first Christmas Eve in the U.S. with my aunts and uncles from San Diego (on my mom’s side), and in summer of 2002 with my first cousins (on my dad’s side)- and I defo want to go back again… and again and again! After all, loads must have had changed in the city after 10 years…. 2. Why is that particular trip memorable? 3. What particular aspect of that trip did you find most exciting? What about the least exciting aspect? My first time in Vegas was overwhelming and I was “megapolis-struck” – blinking lights everywhere, glitzy themed resort- casinos (we went to every one of them on the Strip but missed Mandalay Bay, I forgot why!), and particularly the dancing fountains at the Bellagio which gave the accompanying Christmas songs a different life and depth. I remember strolling down the Strip late at night and in early mornings and feeling like I was wrapped in a dream. Vegas is magical, alive, throbbing. I didn’t see it as the “Sin City” that it’s (in)famous for probably because I was travelling with family- LOL. Moreover, note-worthy is the fact that I packed on 5 pounds or more on the that trip! My second Vegas trip was even more unforgettable. This time I went on a summer road trip from Palm Springs, California together with my half-Austrian cousins who came all the way from Vienna just to spend time with moi in the states. We drove for 5 hours across the Mojave Desert spanning the distance between California and Nevada (and later drove in 40+ degrees weather to Hoover Dam right on the Nevada-Arizona border before heading back to Palm Springs) -I heart road trips! We stayed at Bally’s Hotel and Casino right on the strip. We took the lift up the “mock” Eiffel Tower in the Parisian Palace right next to our hotel; almost believed we were in the Sahara while scouring through shops in the Desert Passage inside the Aladdin Resort; ate like gods and goddesses at Pharaoh‘s Pheast Buffet in the Luxor Hotel-Casino; had great fun at the Pirate Show at Treasure Island; watched the volcanoes spew fire every 20 minutes at the Mirage; played the slot machines at the MGM Grand; took a quick peek at Coyote Ugly inside New York-New York Hotel; shopped till our pockets were empty at the Forum in Caesar’s Palace; fell in love with Monte Carlo Resort’s façade; posed with knight statues at the Excalibur; enjoyed the acrobat show and won stuffed toys at the Circus, Circus; and to top it all, we went up to the observation tower of the Stratosphere (the tallest observation deck in the US) where you get a breathtaking 360-degree view of the Strip and the valley. I’ve defo fallen in love with the city. There’s a lot to see, a lot to explore, and lots of memories to take with you. I’m sure those who have been to Vegas will more than agree with me. I mean, I was there a decade ago and the pulsating images of Vegas are still vivid in my head.J Maybe the downside of staying in Vegas is dealing with the crowd and trying to elbow your way from one resort to another especially in the evenings (better to go on foot while on the Strip to avoid mad traffic everywhere and valet parking which sometimes takes ages.)

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But then I think the throngs and buzz of tourists from all corners of the world add to the character and charm that is distinctly Las Vegas.

4. If there’s one place you’d like to visit (that you haven’t been to yet), what is it and why? Ah…, Santorini, Greece – no doubt! It’s on top of my Must-Go-To list. I can picture myself quietly sipping wine at an al fresco café in Oia overlooking the caldera while quietly scribbling away a poem or two. In tow, of course, will be my now 6-year-old talkative but adorable Gabriel and my very lucky future-husband. (LOL!) Back in ‘Pinas, I’d love to go on a road trip from Manila all the way up to Vigan, Ilocos Sur and drink in some good old Philippine history.

With my cousin Bianca and now fiancé Ludwig inside Caesar’s Palace Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas- Summer 2002.


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