12 Reasons Why the Philippines Should be in Your Travel List

The Philippines has been getting bad press recently. The country is in a number of travel advisories mainly due to the government’s so-called “war on drugs.” There are also the persistent threat of terrorism in the southern region. One thing foreigners must know is that the Philippines is composed of thousands of islands, including two administrative regions. While there are parts of the country where not even locals are advised to visit during certain periods, pretty much all habitable islands are safe for travel.

Before you remove the Philippines in your travel destination list, here are 12 reasons why you should fly to this Southeast Asian paradise.

Expand your network

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Photo courtesy of Unsplash via Pexels

It’s quite a known fact that Filipinos are extremely hospitable and  sociable. No wonder the country is regarded as the world’s “most social nation.” Expect to meet new friends throughout your journey. Pack a lot of stories and jokes as Filipinos love talking over coffee or chilled beer.

Search for the unsearchable

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Many Southeast Asians joke about Westerners “finding their soul” or the meaning of their life in poorer countries. Foreigners can’t really be blamed. The Philippines and its neighbors are home to breathtaking landscapes that can redefine one’s perspective in life.  Aside from the well-known beaches in the Philippines, there are majestic mountains and volcanoes in the Cordillera and Bicol regions. Shut off the stressors in your life. Hit the road.

Score the best shopping deals

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Whether you’re hunting for luxury clothing brands, local handicraft or the latest gadgets, the Philippines got you covered.  The country is home to some of the largest shopping malls in the world including SM City North EDSA, SM Megamall, and SM Mall of Asia. During the holiday season, major malls extend their operating hours to midnight, offering unbelievable discounts and bargains. There are also bazaars, fairs, and novelty shops everywhere.

Affordable accommodations

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Photo courtesy of Fairway Residences via DMCI Homes

There’s a wide range of accommodations for short- and long-term stays in the Philippines. You can book a hotel, inn, transient home, room or a condo unit. A resort-style condo, such as Fairway Residences, can be rented for a few weeks to a couple of years. It has everything you need from a fitness gym, business center, and laundry services. Most condo communities are situated near business districts and commercial areas, making it easier to explore the city.

Mangoes are king

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Photo courtesy of Line-tOodLinGfc via Pixabay

Food in the Philippines cannot be defined by a handful of adjectives. There’s a lot to feast on from fresh fruits and vegetables to mouthwatering dishes. The country is a huge exporter of mangoes. You can have all the mango products that you can eat—dried mangoes, candied mangoes, mango shake, etc.

 

Lechon and sisig, and lots of red peppers

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Photo courtesy of Filipino Recipes Portal via Pinterest

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When it comes to pork dishes, Filipinos reign supreme. Lechon, or roasted suckling pig, came from Spanish conquerors and was later reinvented by locals in different parts of the country. Each region has its own recipe and sauce. Lechon paksiw is a dish variation of this well-loved food. Sisig is another popular pork dish that hailed from Pampanga. It’s made of chopped grilled pork parts including ears, seasoned with salt, vinegar, and spices. If you drive further north, you can have dinakdakan, an Ilocano dish made of grilled pork ears, boiled pig brain, and lots of red peppers.

 

Goat dishes like you’ve never had before

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The Philippines is home to a large Muslim population. Before the European domination, the archipelago was under the Sultanate rule. Most Filipino Muslims hail from Mindanao, though many have migrated to the northern regions. One way of exploring the Filipino Muslim culture is through culinary. Try the traditional kanduli, a goat meat dish usually served during festivities. In northern provinces, goat meat is a staple. You should try kilawing kambing, sinampalukang kambing, and kalderetang kambing. Other Mindanaoan food you can enjoy are cassava delicacies such as taajil and piyuto.

Sun, sand, and sea

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Photo courtesy of  Ibrahim Asad via Pexels

Traveling in the Philippines is incomplete without visiting the beaches. Aside from the world-renowned Boracay and Palawan, there are equally magnificent destinations in Ilocos Norte, La Union, Baler, Mindoro, Bicol, and Davao. Swim, snorkel, scuba dive or go island-hopping. There are also night parties where the well-loved San Miguel beer is served.

Experience that “tagay” system

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Beer, gin, and karaoke—with these, you have a very Filipino vacation. The tagay system is a drinking ritual where family and friends take shots of alcohol from one glass passed from one person after another. If you can’t carry your alcohol anymore, you’d need to nominate someone to take the shot for you. Be ready for drinking games such as “truth or dare” or the infamous karaoke singing competition.

A vibrant art scene

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Why you should travel the Philippines? To immerse yourself into various art forms. The country is a melting pot of cultures. You should know that there are dozens of languages spoken across the archipelago, as well as a number of indigenous groups with their unique customs and traditions. Amid modernization, artists and  ethnic groups are collaborating to preserve customs, traditions, and local art forms. There are body art exhibits (tattooing), theater performances, and music festivals organized in different parts of the country.

Captivating religious structures

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The Philippines is home to Catholics, Muslims, Protestants, Methodists and other  Christian religions established by Filipinos. Explore the many churches, mosques, statues, and holy sites across the country. You can also join religious festivities held all year round.

Budget-friendly lifestyle

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Discover the Philippines with a fraction of the price you’d spend in other destinations. You get a full meal for US$2, a rental apartment for less than US$200, and regular out-of-town escapades without burning your bank account. Ask locals for cheap yet good recommendations. It’ll help if you explore the country with a Filipino friend who’d do the haggling for you.

If the news about the Philippines and its controversial leader is scaring you, don’t worry. There’s more to the archipelago than meets the eye. Take heed of travel warnings, but research on safe areas and activities. Ask a local. Definitely, Filipinos are more than happy to accommodate your questions.

8 Tips to Prevent Break-Ins While You’re Away on a Holiday

The holidays is a time for joy, sharing, and kindness. It’s a season for spending quality time with your family and friends. It’s a time when everyone is thankful for what they have. Unfortunately, the holidays is also a time for robbery and home invasion. According to the FBI, over 400,000 cases of burglaries happen in November and December every year. Since this is the season where families are usually away on a Christmas trip, criminals take this opportunity to rummage through unattended homes and take whatever they want. Burglars also enjoy the Christmas season but at other people’s expense.

Luckily for you, if you read on, you can prevent those scums from looting your home. You can go out and enjoy quality time with your family because it’s the holidays—and you should always have a good time during holidays. All you have to do is follow these tips to secure your home during the holiday season and hope that the only guy who will enter your house is Santa Claus himself.

Friends in need: Ask a neighbor to house-sit for you

Photo courtesy of Fabrice Florin via Flickr
Photo courtesy of Fabrice Florin via Flickr

Reaching out to your neighbors is part of the Christmas spirit. Plus, your neighbors can also help you secure your home for the holidays. You can ask your neighbors, friends or relatives to house-sit for you when you’re away on your Christmas vacation. Don’t forget to ask them nicely and give your complete contact details in case of an emergency. If you’re staying in for the holidays, you can still ask your neighbors to keep an eye on your house every now and then. Not only will you have a sense of security but also foster a healthy relationship with the people around you. Invite them for Christmas dinner as you enjoy a safe and warm holiday night.

Anti-social: Don’t announce your vacation plans on social media

Photo courtesy of Quinntheislander via Pixabay
Photo courtesy of Quinntheislander via Pixabay

This should really be hard, especially if you’re very active online. But in order to protect your home during Christmas, you have to avoid posting your holiday plans for a while. Think about it. Do you really want potential intruders to know the exact time you’re away from home? By staying clear of social media, you will prevent stalkers from knowing your exact location. You should also limit your posts about your gift purchases in order to fend off potential thieves. You can resume your social media activity once your trip is done. The point is you don’t have to share every aspect of your life to everyone, especially the technologically-adept criminals.

No way in: Keep all points of entry locked and reinforced

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Photo courtesy of WDnet Studio via Pexels

 

 

This should be basic, but it’s also worth mentioning again and again. Before you even book the flight to your holiday destination, you have to make sure all points of entry in your house are safely locked. Getting a door lock is easy, but it’s not enough to prevent break-ins. You should consider upgrading your locks every time you go some place else. You can also fit security grilles on your windows for additional security. Secure all exterior doors with at least two locks or a mortice lock with five levers or more. Don’t leave a hole in your house completely exposed because robbers will always take the smallest opportunities.

Smart home for smart vacationers: Activate your timer switches

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Photo courtesy of Binyamin Mellish via Pexels

Try to put yourself on an intruder’s shoes. If you’re looking for the next house to burglarize, which one will you choose: the house that looks abandoned or the house that looks bright on the inside? A house that looks empty is an easy target and if you leave your house unattended, you’ll be the next robbery victim. Create the illusion of occupancy before you leave for the holidays. Consider installing timer switches to turn the lights and other appliances on and off at certain times. You can also automate your blinds to open and close to make your house look lived-in. Having automated house sitters is a cool way to make your home safe from burglars.

Fortified inside and out: Install a reliable home security system

Photo courtesy of Blondinrikard Froberg via Flickr
Photo courtesy of Blondinrikard Froberg via Flickr

You can guarantee your safety by installing a reliable home alarm system in the house. You can install dummy alarms to scare off thieves or you can get the more integrated and advanced security systems. Install CCTV cameras in strategic locations so you can record any suspicious activity. By doing this, you can also watch your house on real-time during your holiday vacation. Place sensor-activated security lights to alert your neighbors if there’s a commotion anywhere around your house. If you’re not sure what type of security system to get, you can always seek the help of your local home security company to get a more professional advice.

Say no to subscriptions: Cancel all regular home deliveries

Photo courtesy of Gellinger via Pixabay
Photo courtesy of Gellinger via Pixabay

Having your daily newspaper delivered to your doorsteps is indeed convenient, but if you’re planning a week-long Christmas sabbatical, you may want to tell the newspaper boy to stop delivering the paper for a while. Cancel all regular deliveries such as milk, newspapers, magazines, and any other subscription. When these things pile up in your doorway, they will just compromise your home security during holidays. Also, you have to keep an eye on your letterbox to make sure it’s not overflowing with unread mails. You can ask a good neighbor to collect your mail for you when you’re away.

Snakes and ladders: Tuck away all tools that can aid a burglar

Photo courtesy of Helena via Pixabay
Photo courtesy of Helena via Pixabay

Being tidy is a desirable trait in general but it is especially important when it comes to home security. Always make sure your tools are kept in locked containers before you go on a Christmas vacation. Don’t leave a hammer or a crowbar lying around your patio or garage. Potential intruders are always resourceful, and if you leave even a small hoe in your garden, they will definitely use it to break into your house. Keep your garden tools and ladders in the basement, where they will be impossible to access. Also, if there’s a need to leave a spare house key, make sure it’s strategically hidden somewhere or entrust them in the hands of a reliable neighbor.

Well-kept lawns: Keep greeneries watered and trimmed

Photo courtesy of Mike Birdy via Pexels
Photo courtesy of Mike Birdy via Pexels

Aside from having a nice façade, keeping your garden healthy can also help ward off potential intruders. Criminals will interpret an unkempt garden as an opportunity to strike since they will assume no one is home. So before you leave on a holiday hiatus, ask your neighbors to watch your garden for you. You can also arrange for a professional gardener to mow the lawn and cultivate the soil in your garden at least once a week. Make sure the entry points of your house are free from shrubbery. You just don’t know how much having a green thumb can add to your Christmas holiday security.

Sure, having a fun vacation is your main concern this Christmas. But you should also realize that your vacation would be useless if you go home to a burglarized house. Securing your home is as important as organizing a wonderful holiday vacation so don’t set it aside this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Frequently Visited Destinations in Asia, No Wonder Why

My friends were the first ones to have caught the travel bug. They have convinced me that hiking through the Amazon is a good way to spend my weekend than reading a good book on my couch. I didn’t really believe I’d be out there as I was a typical home body. However, my first trip in Egypt opened the possibility of exploring not only different places, but different culture. In the past years, I fell in love with Asia. I never realized that their culture is so different from my own.

Photo by jjcb via Flickr

Singapore

After visiting Egypt, a friend took me to Singapore to fill out for our friend who was unable to join the trip. It was a very different experience indeed. Singapore, though very small in land area, is a true melting pot of culture. Chinese, Malay, and Indian culture are strongly felt everywhere, especially in food influences. Don’t forget to try Chilli Crab whenever you’re in Singapore. This humble seafood sure packs a punch. It is also very interesting to see the influence of Colonial British in the country. Structures, such as the Old Admiralty House along the Old Nelson Road, will take any tourist into the old era of the British invasion. Everything, from the curb appeal of their traditional awnings and verandas to the still well kept gardens, boasts English culture. It provides a nice contrast to the traditional Eastern culture in Singapore. Also, visit Orchard Road for high-end brands. Better yet, go to Sungei Road Thieves’ Market for anything retro and quirky.

Photo by Armando Torrealba via Flickr

Bali, Indonesia

From the hustle and bustle of the West, it is nice to visit a place where one can be close to nature. Although, the Kuta-Legian-Seminyak Region is very much developed and a haven for party-goers, it is better to head to the other direction and stay in Ubud. Known by the locals to be mostly farms and celebrated for its arts and crafts, it is a perfect place to stretch my weary body and listen to nature’s chatter. It can be quite warm in the area and because of this the watermelon juice in Sari Organik became my instant favourite. There are also gelato selections in Gaya Gelato to survive the hotter parts of the day. What I love about Ubud is the freedom to roam around in nature. The rice paddies are a nice break from the din of the economic centre in the area. There’s also a jungle just a walking-distance away. Monkey Forest is also enjoyable, but monkeys can be aggressive especially if you have food with you.

Photo by Carlos Donderis via Flickr

Tokyo, Japan

The main purpose of my visits in Tokyo is good food. I am fond of Japanese food and if you are too, there’s no place better than Tokyo, where you can taste most food offered by different regions in Japan. Forget the sushi bars in New York, Tokyo is full with sushi restaurants from the typical small kiosks to the high-end places. I usually have friends in tow when travelling and we always head to an Izakaya for a good time. This traditional pub is a perfect place to try sake and bond with friends. Of course, Tokyo is also a shopping Mecca. Shibuya is a perfect place to shop for clothes not normally found back in the UK. Take note though, the sizes are very different in Japan.

Photo by Visit Abu Dhabi via Flickr

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi is an intersection of the conservative middle-eastern culture and the liberated ways of the west. Abu Dhabi shares its progressive attitude with the neighbouring Dubai but with a more relaxed feel. I stayed at the Royal Hotel, one of the mid-range amenities in the city, during a business trip. The retro design and bold colours sure lend a very different energy for visitors. Surprisingly, I found a mangrove marsh right within the area. The protected mangroves of Abu Dhabi are open to visitors for kayaking. Its narrow channels and splendid lagoons are very much refreshing. I was also lucky to have been included in a tour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It houses the largest carpet in the world! The 24-carat gold plated Swarovski crystal chandeliers are enough to inspire awe. Also, no one should miss the Muhammad Rose Tea in Central Market.

Photo by Riccardo Romano via Flickr

Varanasi, India

My friends, for some reason, are very wary in visiting India. What we usually see in the West, such as overpopulation and poverty in the capital, is a very small part of India’s beauty. After a quick stay in Mumbai, my friends and I went straight to Varanasi. Our hotel, the Nadesar Palace is an old heritage house with charming gardens. We were warned about the heat, but I welcomed it like an old friend. We discovered Sarnath through a local befriended in Mumbai. I enjoyed the quiet, gently rolling deer park which is very accessible from the hotel. Sarnath is where the Buddha was born and the first seat of Buddhism. We also loved Bhangarh, outside Amanbagh. This ancient town near Jaipur is mesmerizing and spiritually inspiring. I suggest hiring a local tour guide to maximize your stay in Varanasi. We also discovered that Varanasi hides palaces. Man Mandir, located right along the Ganges, is a perfect place to view the area. Visitors are allowed to climb to the roof where an excellent panorama awaits. It is also a perfect place to take pictures.

Photo by Just One Way Ticket via Flickr

Philippines

Apart from its famous turquoise water and emerald rice fields, I was bewildered with the vibrant, fun-loving and eclectic group of people in the Philippines. Despite of the increasing trends of high-rise buildings and condominiums in the Philippine central area, indeed, it is the land of hospitable locals and the land of Asia’s pristine islands.  That time, I travelled alone but never in my full stay there that I felt unaccompanied. People I met were extremely welcoming, curious and respectful. I first visited the queen of all beaches, the White Sand Beach of Boracay. I stayed for 2 days in Boracay. The sandy beaches and crystal clear water, told me that I was in the right country. Not to cite their prosperous Filipino food. Every dish is worth trying and has the taste of Asia’s best cuisines. My personal favourite is Adobo, a dish of chicken cooked with vinegar and soy sauce. One Filipino chef (I can barely remember his name) even taught me how to cook and prepare their special adobo. Another thing I found very amusing with the Filipino troops and culture is their jeepney. It’s a public transportation vehicle that was outlined from U.S military jeeps back in the WW2. The Filipinos gave it a colourful designs, decorative ornaments, flashy paintings and lights. I’ve never seen anything like Filipino jeepneys before. I enjoyed hopping from different marvellous places riding the jeepney. I haven’t explored much of the country’s best places and until now, I have been longing to visit the Philippines again.

Asia is a world treasure waiting to be explored. I am looking forward to my future adventures in Asia. Perhaps, I should visit Mongolia?

Tips in Finding an Apartment

As of now, more and more lands are being converted into commercial areas wherein apartment buildings are mostly situated at urban places, especially at marketable centers. This is due to the demand for housing which is continuously escalating in magnitude every year.

An apartment, while it doesn’t offer much investment potential, is considered one of the wisest financial choices, and solutions to this demanding real estate inclination, which is why a lot of people are realizing its several benefits, and in due course, are purchasing them. Some may be saving for a down payment on a home; others may be unable to afford buying a home. For families or individuals who move often, or for those who are not interested in the maintenance and repair of a home, renting can offer freedom to relocate, and relief from the costs of home ownership. Moreover, many wish to find an affordable yet quality residence, in which they can enjoy carefree living, and luxuries that they might otherwise never have. Read more

Things to Consider When Looking For An Apartment

Where do you start? Who do you ask? How will you know if it’s the right space for you? These are the questions that come in mind when looking for an apartment. First, I recommend that you consider consulting regional newspapers, and advertisements on the Internet. These resources will help you learn more about the process on a wider range. Nowadays, more and more real estate owners advertise their developments through their host websites, thus, providing you with a huge record of apartments in selection. Booking your reservations online is now also available; this will help you reserve the apartment you prefer easily. But before choosing an apartment for rent, be enlightened first by the list of the following things you need to consider:

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Philippine Mortgage Calculator

Are you worried about how you’d be meeting your mortgage payments? Do you feel that in the future it may be a problem for you? Do you want that hard reassurance to tell you that you could maintain your payment for this mortgage for years to come?

Well, here is something helpful you could use, a Philippine Mortgage Calculator.

A Philippine Mortgage Calculator