Archive for the travel Category

(lg2a) next generation

Posted in artifacts, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, news, people, technology, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2011 by mijodo

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"OH LORD"

Absolutely, the average Filipino when asked which possessions he needs to have in his entire lifetime would provide two answers:  his own house, and his own car.   Of course such wishes, particularly for a car, will be tempered by the income that he gets, and the other needs to be spent on for his family.  Hence, some of them will not even think of the most audacious and most incredulous automobiles to purchase, and might settle for any brand new, economy car.  Heck, probably, he even would get by with just repossessed secondhands.  But still the Filipino appreciates and gets excited about the newest and poshest cars, to come out from the delearships. If only the average Filipino can come to Michigan, be in awe of the  jawdropping, unbelievable, next generation of automobiles, while he attends the Mother of all Carshows – the North American International Autoshow at the Cobo Hall, at Downtown, Detroit.

The whole Cobo Center which used to be the arena for the Detroit Pistons has been a veritable red carpet to the assembly of stars, made up, of course by cars, trucks and vans. From Asia – Toyota, Honda, Kia, Mazda, Hyundai. From Europe – Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Mini Cooper, Audi, Volvo. From the US – Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler, General Motors. From up and coming companies like Tesla and GEM to real deal manufacturers like Porsche and Ferrari. It is every Filipino boy’s fantasy. It is every Filipina’s dream gift from her future mate.
Every square inch of the hall is a chance to ogle and peek in the future of automobiles. To many of the Filipinos who have no access to the leaps on comfort and styling in the new editions of vehicles, changes within the interiors of automobile are exciting to watch.  There are monitors that give the drivers accurate satellite information regarding position anywhere in the United States. This helps the drivers meander their way to their destination through the interstate expressways and neighborhood streets.  There is no excuse of getting lost here in the US. (But in the Philippines, our own tricycle drivers that ply within villages and barangays will guide lost drivers, to where the exact place is. That’s our own tracking device!)
Backseat passengers will not just settle with movie videos or television right behind the front seats. They will be able to fiddle their computers and ipads as they connect to plugs that energize such gizmos.  Some passenger cars even offer tables so that users will be able to employ such consoles.
However aside from the use of mapping device and the internet, there is one sure thing about many of these cars that showed up at the autoshow.  Manufacturers have tried to be more efficient with the utilization of  petroleum. Others have increased mileage with the use of gasoline and diesel or have used other sources of energy such as electricity.  It is the way of the future.  Electric car charging stations will be as common as gasoline stations.  Such change will significantly lower pollution, and decrease dependency on petroleum which has become less affordable  through the years. 
Electric cars and Hybrid cars have rolled out from Tesla with its Roadster. Other industry leaders have also produced such viable vehicles for the future like the Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius, and Volkwagen Golf E-Motion. Luxury brand Mercedes Benz has joined the bandwagon with its own E-Cell.
The change is a function of need more than want – increasing transportation demand and depleting fossil fuel or crude oil resource.  In this car exhibit, kudos to them, the few and elite car engineers and designers are paving the way for such transition to the next generation of cars for everyone – including the average Filipino.
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2010 in review

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, news, people, technology, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2011 by mijodo

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 49,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 6 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 26 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 116 posts. There were 191 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 55mb. That’s about 4 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was June 20th with 430 views. The most popular post that day was ANOTHER FAMILY UNIT (Aurora Loft), good for four with dedicated DSL and PHONE line, starting at P1450 per night.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were pinoyexchange.com, sulit.com.ph, en.wordpress.com, mail.yahoo.com, and facebook.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for manila ocean park, imee marcos wedding, bianca gonzales, apartelle in quezon city, and fashion.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

ANOTHER FAMILY UNIT (Aurora Loft), good for four with dedicated DSL and PHONE line, starting at P1450 per night February 2010
12 comments

2

and then, there’s room for more (at again half the usual hotel price)! September 2008
86 comments

3

hot pools of pansol August 2008
16 comments

4

the great classic cotton shirt September 2008
36 comments

5

the antipolo ambient March 2009
1 comment

(lg2a) way to go

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, food, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, people, technology, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2010 by mijodo

 

It all started with a passion for photography, and some skill in writing.  Then I started to create a blog that should document all my travels , and probably show off a portfolio of pictures and articles which have been published not only in the world wide web but also in some of the more prestigious inflight and travel magazines that have literally crossed not only the shores within the Philippines, but across the whole globe.
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For many of the travel articles on this blog, Lets Go Pinas, the writing and photography are brought about not only by my interest and skills, but because of the circumstances that have brought me to many sections of the Philippines, and lately, to the vast areas of North America.
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Several weeks ago, I was invited by my cousin Barbara, and her husband, Eliot, to check on an idyllic community, west of Detroit, Michigan, using their Recreational Vehicle or RV. Basically an RV is a motorhome which can bring all the residential trappings as you go from one place to another inside a vehicle as large as a bus.  Our RV can accommodate probably about 4 people to sleep on its beds, even while the the RV is moving.  In  our vehicle, there is a full functioning kitchen and a restroom that can even supply heated water for showers.  Of course, there are amenities like the television, a comfortable couch, and table and chairs for dining. To travel the roads using such behemoth is truly a luxurious experience.
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Just recently, another posh mode of transportation that gives that high and exhilirating feel would be gondola lifts that are propelled by cable lines usually on steep areas such as atop the mountains. This kind of vehicle provides the riders stunning scenic vistas of verdant mountains during summers or ice-capped mountain areas during winter times.
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However obviously, it is not always that I get to ride such deluxe transportation.  Many times, while travelling alone to create articles and photos for magazine publication, I get to employ lowly vehicles, such as tricycles which I usually get to rent for the whole day, at very minimal cost, to take me into the hinterlands. For me, these trikes -not the jeepneys – are the real kings of the road in the provinces since there are more of them that take you directly to the exact places, even if they are quite remote.
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But for sheer excitement, the habal-habal of many island provinces in the Philippines takes the cake.  Again for some small fare, one can lease on such services of a motorcycle, and hop on at the back of the driver, and explore outlying destinations whether in the beaches or in the hills and mountains.  It may be a little dangerous as there is no gear provided just in case accidents occur. However definitely, using such motor bikes while my face is against the wind is already an adventure in itself.
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Many times, the proverbial line – the journey may be even more interesting than the destination itself – is quite true. I personally have collected some anecdotes and stories that have wiggled out during such trips.  One time, in Ilocos Norte, I had to ask my trike driver where La Paz Ilocos Dunes was.  But the driver seemed not to know where it was, or if there even was one around Laoag. So I had to describe it through another way – where Action King FPJ had done his epic movie classics: Ang Panday (series).  In a jiffy, he was able to bring me where I had wanted.
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By just constantly hiring tricycles throughout my trip to Ilocos, I was able to gather some quaint observation about the differences in tricycle sizes from one province to another,  The ones in Ilocos Sur are a lot roomier whereas the ones in Ilocos Norte may only fit one person inside their cabs, and one may even have some difficulty in getting out from the space as their trikes are short and squatlike. 
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I have met some interesting and even familiar faces just by waiting out at the airports or bus terminals, boarding on boats and ships, talking with cab drivers and fellow bus passengers, and hanging on to dangerous habal- habal and speeding jeepneys for dear life.
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However, it is most meaningful to share transport space with family and friends – from my great parents, Lita and Glicerio, constant, travel partner, Ate Mae in the Philippines to the people here in the United States and Canada, such as my sisters, Jane and Christie, brothers in law, Edgar and Rashid, beautiful niece, Ernestine, Uncle Isdoc and Auntie Lelita, Uncle Nary and Auntie Gaying, and cousins Al and Gisela,  Baby Liz, and of course RV owners, Barbara and her husband Eliot.  Thank you very much. Till our next trip together, guys. Happy New Year, and way to go, for Year 2011!
 

get crazy and high

Posted in architecture, events, health, interior design, lifestyle, locales, news, people, sports, technology, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2010 by mijodo

 If New York has the Empire State Building, and Paris has the Eiffel Tower, then Cebu may just have Crown Regency Hotel. Afterall, in these tall landmarks, it is not unusual for many tourists and locals to come up, and take in all the panoramic views the eyes can afford to see from such edifices. People in the city of New York clamber up to the 86th floor of the famed Art-deco office building to set eyes on the uniformed street blocks of Manhattan and its countless skyscrapers. In Paris, all try to move up into the observation platform of the iron tower of Eiffel, and gush at the lush garden sceneries down below, particularly the Trocadero Fountains. But once in Cebu, visitors go to the highest floors of the hotel edifice, and try to admire the vast aerial views of the metropolis, but possibly, even quite literally, with a twist.

 Of course at the very top of the building which is said to be the  tallest in Cebu, and probably in the whole Philippines, there are the usual coin operated binoculars and telescopes to zoom in on specific areas of Cebu City, but one can be most appreciative of the commanding and extensive views of the city without the necessity of such peering device. But alas, still that would be a little unexciting as there are more atypical ways to get a 360 degree views of this historic and economically robust southern city destination through the Sky Experience Adventure, at the very top of the Crown Regency, along President Osmena Boulevard.

Take the Plunge.  One can even get out of the comfort zone by checking the vista a little outside the perimeter of the building through its Edge Coaster. At the 39th floor, one can take on the ride, similar to the cabs of a rollercoaster, that takes you around the building, yet facing full frontally the views. But then the seat tilts down 55 degrees giving one the impression of plunging 430 feet towards the ground. In fact, if both parties (the cab can only seat two at a time) decide to increase the slant more, the seat can even go to an extreme 90 degree down slope. But then one gets to realize that one is strapped safely at the coaster. Still the experience is intense and may not be advisable for those who have the fear of falling.

 The ride starts with the gracious staff giving all pointers for safety. And not like the usual rollercoaster where cabs move together, each cab in the Edge Coaster moves independently. Then the cab slowly tips over and gives one that feeling of falling down. One just prays that one does not actually fall off from the seat. Expectedly, people just hold on to the to the seat’s handlebars for dear life. But as the cab moves slowly around, then the safety features of the ride are guaranteed ok. During the ride, it is a little straining and awkward for some because of the position they are in. But then the ride is not very long, it just goes around for a minute or so.

 Look Ma, No Railings. If the Edge Coaster gives one a sensation of dropping toward land, another feature of the Sky Experience Adventure, the Sky Walk provides an impression of flying – or at least walking on air. At the 38th floor of the building, there is a four foot wide ramp around the building to walk on, without the supposed security of the railings or barrier. At the ramp there is only the harness which is securely tied from the ceiling to the suit worn by person that provides some sense of protection.  The harness’s length is short enough to make the person stay only on at the ramp, making it difficult for one to fall off from the ledge. Again, one gets to see the whole scenic vistas of Cebu. But of course, somehow there is just more mind thrill when one is romping around on the tallest building in the city, and without supposedly the safety net of the guardrails.

 But indeed, the Sky Experience Adventure team does all the precautionary procedures to avoid all untoward incidents. The team of ladies and gentlemen who have mostly mountaineering experience briefs everyone on the safety measures provided for the Skywalk Experience and how everyone should conduct himself during the walk. One must don on the blue and yellow suit specifically for such walk. And if there are those who are in slippers or highheeled shoes, the team can lend rubbershoes to provide them sole traction while on the ramp. The team also says that harnesses which can carry a weight of 5000 pounds are there for the utmost safety of the people. The ramp is strong enough and can accommodate a number of people at a given moment.

Then people are instructed to get out of the building premises, and go out and step on the actual walkway. Together with some members of the team crew, people are instructed to start walking guided by the harnesses that dangle from ceiling top. With some trepidation, one walks, and in due time, he or she enjoys a seeming moment of freedom. Then somehow, one is even emboldened to perch and sit at the very rim of the pathway. Or he can show off  a one foot standing trick at the glass edge as well, directed by the team leader. Everything can be documented by an official photographer that goes along with group for the romp.

Everything to see and feel. During the day time, you get the whole arresting vista of Cebu’s Metropolis, with the Cebu Harbor at the Southeast, and the other neighboring cities of Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, Naga and Talisay.  There might be some challenge to find famous landmarks of Cebu such as Tops at the hills of Busay. But definitely, one can easily find the iconic memorial plaza – the Fuente Osmena Circle, and of course, further up – the beautiful and majestic Capitol building of Cebu Province.

And since the Sky Experience Adventure opens until past midnight, particularly during weekends, it is very worthy to visit and participate in both rides during the evenings as well to see the luminous lights of the Capitol and Fuente Osmena Circle, and experience another enthralling aspect of the whole Cebu City. One must do the rides then twice – during the day and during the night.

Bill Killgore, General Manager of Sky Experience Adventure, devised ways to make the rides affordable, even offering two rides for the price of one promotion, many times. The patrons even get a certificate after each ride – detailing the exact date, time and even the condition of the weather. Then of course, one can purchase a picture of himself enjoying the rides, and if hungry, then he may have some food at the Sky Lounge or Sky Resto Bar.

And if there is some more money to spend, one can go several floors down to watch and experience a movie of a 4D kind! In other words, not only will he view movie scenes almost realistically through state of the art magic, he also experiences and definitely feels everything almost authentically what is shown on the screen. It is not good to spoil a film by spilling out the details, but it is recommended that one brings a hanky or small towel at the theater.

Bill Killgore, recollects that Cebu locals had some hesitations when the Sky Experience Adventure started late 2008, and it was people outside Cebu who were more adventurous and enthusiastic to partake in such rides. But it has changed through the months. In fact one local Cebuano guy, through the help of the Sky Adventure Experience team and its manager, surprised his girlfriend and popped the ultimate question – “Will you marry me?” – at the 38th Floor during their promenade at the Sky Walk. “I am just waiting that a marriage ceremony will be done here one of these days,” Killgore says a matter of factly. Well, that surely is another way of taking the plunge – 30 plus floors above the ground in Cebu.

(lg2a) give me the dirty, the dingy, the dazzling new york city

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, fashion, food, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, nature, news, people, religion, sports, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2010 by mijodo

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“This reminds me of Cubao, Quiapo and Makati altogether,” one sister declared.
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Yes it can be true. Just go to the heart of New York City – Manhattan that is, and you get a melange of all our iconic busy places in Metro Manila. The monumental glass buildings and skyscrapers, and fancy boutique glasswindows remind you of Ayala Avenue. The corner delicatessens, the quaint coffeshops and small emporiums, and the ubiquitous hotdog stands are reminiscent of the old Cubao, just before the posh Gateway Mall was built. Oh yes, the seedy, dirty streets, the incessant scaffoldings blocking pedestrians, and  the chaotic volume of people, crisscrossing the grid streets (which then Manila Metropolitan Commission Governor Imelda Marcos wanted to impossibly copy for the layout of Metro Manila )of Manhattan implore a Quiapo feel overall.
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“I will never come back here,” another sister threatened. She is happy to stay in a quiet suburb somewhere in the midwest.
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It is not only her who seems to be disillusioned by New York City. Aside from the disarray of Manhattan, some have outrightly warned of the bedlam that happens in the Big Apple such as frequent muggings and  the saucy attitude by the New Yorkers. There was even a time when all patrons were forcibly asked  to leave a store just because it was already closing. My sister pointed out such crudeness to a store manager. The store got some rude awakening from a Detroit diva there!
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But it is the diamond in the rough that makes New York special and iconic to many of us non-New York dwellers. The Statue of Liberty at the harbor, United Nations Headquaters and the Financial District appeal to those who have romanticized the ideals of freedom, harmony and capitalism. The beaches at Hamptons, the artifacts of the numerous galleries and museums, the runway fashion shows of designers, and the explosion of architecture connect highly to the desires and senses of the erudite, the avantgarde, the sophisticated, and the moneyed from all over the globe.
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But for many of us, hoi-polloi, including me, it is the razzle-dazzle of pop culture that makes us warm with delight in the City that Never Sleeps. Aside from the music and stories that are churned out from musicals and plays of Broadway and the numerous movies which featured the city, it is the weekly and probably daily television shows, old and new, that familiarize us with a piece of New York life. Shows such as Seinfeld, Friends, and Sex in the City give the couch potatoes a weekly dose of insights regarding independence, fraternization and even perhaps fabulous urban living, aside from the quality comedic scripts that comeout from these shows. It is the involved appreciation of such shows that make travelling to this megapolis quite surreal and a definite treat for pop culture afficionados. 
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It is quite a testament to New York City, a city that has experienced trouble in the last few years, in terms of finance and security, of how it has remained on the top, for visitors and travellers passing by America.  No matter how shoddy and dirty New York is, the spotlight stays on that Big Apple.

(lg2a) city of life

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, health, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, news, people, technology, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2010 by mijodo

It has definitely been a privilege to crisscross North America, and see some great cities in this part of the world –  from the flashy glitz of Las Vegas to the can-do character of New York City. However it seems that there is a place in Canada which is esteemed to be the “most livable” among all the cities in the world. And if you happen to be living in Vancouver City, British Columbia, then you are one lucky dude.

However if you just happen to visit Vancouver, it is not difficult to be impressed with what it has to offer –  a working, thriving, and clean metropolis in the bellows of scenic landscapes and sea vistas.  People may be working hard in the city, but the city is not working hard on its people.  The city seems to be aware on how it  can assist its dwellers in making life accessible to convenience and prosperous growth. There is a web of trains and trams that bring its people to work and home – even right to its airport. Passengers don’t need to box out fellow passengers for valued commuter space, during rush hour as commuter crowd is quite sparse. 

It is quite possible  not to even own a car, if a bike ride (or even skateboard) is sufficient (and certainly efficient) for you. There is a bike lane that goes around the city. And however way you explore the city, there are always the surrounding mountains and Fraser River that accompany you, and make your stay, in awe of Vancouver and its environs such as Surrey, Richmond and New Westminister.

The temperate climate even during winters make the whole place bearable, particularly that one can delightfully see from the city snow capped mountain sites, around Vancouver.

Our Version Apparently, it is not only the transport infrastructure or the sceneries that make Vancouver on top of the surveys (one of which is Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey) as “most livable.”  Of course, prime importance are the economic viability of the place and the secured neighborhoods.  Such criteria may be applied on the cities within the Philippines.  And among such places, Davao stoodout, beating out Manila and Cebu City, as “most livable city” in a survey (http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideLifestyle.htm?f=2010%2Faugust%2F24%2Flifestyle3.isx&d=2010%2Faugust%2F24).

Just like Vancouver, Davao City is a bustling megapolis (considered the biggest city in the world in terms of sheer size) with a progressive economy, almost zero percent crime rate, and significantly less traffic hassle compared to that of Manila, Makati and Cebu City.  Since it is located in Mindanao, its weather condition has been mild and almost typhoon free.  Also like in Vancouver, Davaoenos enjoy the short distance access to many beaches, particularly in Samal Island, and the rustic settings of its many mountains, such as Mt. Apo, the tallest mountain within the Philippines.

City of New Life It is no wonder expatriates and newcomers, looking for  opportunities, with a kinder way of life, gravitate towards such cities, such as in Davao, but more particularly in Vancouver.  You right away get the impression that the city of Vancouver welcomes people from all over the world, but more particularly the Asians – Chinese, Indian, and yes, of course the Filipinos, wanting to have a peaceful, rewarding life.

The Vancouverites don’t discriminate. In fact they encourage the people from different nationalities and ethnicities to profess and manifest their own cultural identity without much hesitation.  There is no need to assimilate. Vancouver  wants its people to add on to the vastness of customs and conventions to form a “mosaic” instead of a “blend.” 

The city government offers all the aid and help to new settlers – particularly, to couples with children.  You are given housing assistance, especially if the family’s income may have difficulty with coming up with rental money.  If you are just starting out, this indeed is a sweet deal.

It is not sure if Davao does the same to its new lifetime guests, but for as long you are able to work, contribute and be a good partner in building both cities, then you and your family may just have the life you have been wanting for – a great and productive one. Welcome to the Cities of Life – Davao and Vancouver.