Travel News

Good news outgoing tourists – you can now pay your travel taxes online


 Local and international tourists need no longer endure long lines when it comes to paying their travel taxes – thanks to the efforts of TIEZA, the government arm tasked with the collection and allocation of travel taxes. The government agency has now rolled out the Travel Tax Online Payment System. No more falling in line at the airport just to pay your travel taxes, now all you need is to follow this simple procedure:

1. Go to the TIEZA website at TIEZA.gov.ph

2. From the TIEZA home page click on “click here” at the Philippine Travel Tax Payment System screen:

OR

If the Philippine Travel Tax Payment System is not the screen displayed on the TIEZA home page, click The Travel Tax Tab, and Select “Pay Travel Tax”

3. Click on “Don’t have an account? Click Here” (assuming you are a first timer).

Registration:

4. Fill out the member registration form.

5. When done filling out the registration form, click “ok” to confirm information or “Cancel” to change information.

6. Open the email address you provided and confirm your registration via the confirmation link that TIEZA will send you. If the email does not appear right away, wait a few seconds to a minute and refresh your browser. Should the confirmation email never arrived, there is will be a confirmation link to click on the TIEZA site.

Travel Tax Payment:

7. Once confirmed, click “Click Here to fill up Travel Tax Payment Form!” to bring up Travel Tax Payment Form.

8. Fill up Travel Tax Payment form and click “Confirm Application”

9. The online payment form will appear, fill up Online Payment for and click “confirm payment”

10. Your travel tax payment transactions will appear on the next screen under “Recent Travel Tax Application”, when a transaction has been fully completed, a “Print” button will appear next to it. Wait for the button to read “Print” and click the print button. This may take a few minutes. Refresh your browser every 10 seconds until the print button appears.

11. From the final screen you will be able to print your Travel Tax Payment Receipt. Print the receipt, and bring the printout with you to the airport on the day of your flight, to be presented with your other travel documents

For more information, call the TIEZA office at (02) 551 – 9533 for more information.

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Travel Diaries

Your Beautiful Adventure #MyMarianasPH #Blogapalooza

“Not all who wander are lost,” so goes the oft-quoted line from JRR Tolkien’s poem “All That is Gold does not Glitter.”

Marianas Islands, a lush Micronesian paradise made of tiny tropical islands in the Pacific sandwiched between the furthermost edges of Japan, Hawaii, New Guinea and the Philippines and currently classified as a US Territory, elicits a feeling of adventure for travelers lucky enough to discover and wander throughout the islands. Tolkien might have been referring to the many lucky travelers who managed to set foot on the Marianas — intrepid wanderers, discovering new sights and experiences: definitely not lost, but definitely Wonderfully Lost and definitely on an adventure.

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Credit to Wikipedia

This is the same premise behind “Your Beautiful Adventure” – a tagline that, for me, best describes setting foot on the many islands of The Marianas. I imagine that any traveler setting foot on the islands for the first time must have the same thought in mind: “Hello, My Beautiful Adventure…”

With its lush, unpoilt natural beaches, the mysteries of its many islands, the biggest and most notable are Saipan, Tinian and Rota which is often classified as the Northern Marianas Islands — the opportunity to see this beauty is a dream come true for a traveler like me.

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From the #MyMarianasPH Instagram Page 

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A reminder of the intense fighting during World War II (Photo Credit MyMarianasPH Instagram Page)

Of course, there is so much more to Marianas Islands than beaches, beneath the many lush forests and dense woodlands lies ruins and archeological sites, rich flora and fauna that can excite my Indiana Jones-wannabe heart. There were dive sites, untold history behind its many beaches and woodlands and sumptous cuisine that is an experience in itself.

 

Your Beautiful Adventure in History 

I am a history buff and the biggest nerd ever. History excites me and my idea of a good time is discovering ruins while learning about the history (and the secrets) behind it. So, if I am chosen to go to the Marianas (of course, along with my sister, my hubby and another lucky friend) — they better be prepared to put their Indiana Jones khakis! One of the entries in my bucket list is to go diving and see interesting sights beyond what the land can offer. 

One of the best dive sites is the Maritime Heritage Trail in Tanapag Lagoon, Saipan. Within this trail are Japanese shipwrecks, aircrafts and landing craft, as well as two US aircrafts and a landing craft. These are a somber reminder of one of the most intense battles in the Pacific and also holds significance to other nationalities who took part during the war, including us Filipinos.

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A Japanese merchant vehicle off Tanapag Lagoon (credit to owner, from Wikipedia)

While my swimming skills (more so, my diving) leaves much to be desired, the many in-land wrecks like Sherman Tanks, discarded vehicles and many points of interest within the Heritage Trail are a must-see: not only as a tourist, but also as a history buff who would like to pay her respects to those who lost their lives during the deadly Battle of Saipan.

Your Beautiful Adventure to Wellness 

Another bucket list item I’d like to tick off is to have time to recharge and replenish my body, soul and mind. One of the places I’d like to see is the Taga Beach in Tinian Island and the Managaha Beach in Saipan.

Managaha Beach, with its crystal waters and endless stretch of sand is a paradise for those who love spending day at the beach (like me!) while Tinian offers a glimpse of both the languid, beautiful beach life and the rich culture and history behind the island.

For someone as overworked like I do, an opportunity to just lounge on the beach, with yummy tropical drinks in hand, the wind of my face and the smell of sea on my skin — that already is the very definition of heaven.

Who knows? I might be able to make this dream a reality — thanks to #MyMarianasPH and #Blogapalooza everything is possible.

 

 

This post is my entry to the “Get Wonderfully Lost in the Northern Marianas Islands” contest courtesy of #MyMarianasPH and #Blogapalooza.

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Travel Tips

No Bill Shock: Say goodbye to atrocious data charges when you travel – thanks to MyPAL Roam 

Traveling nowadays doesn’t stop when one reaches the destination. The dawn of technology has given rise to the need to be always connected – whether sharing amazing photos of sunrise on top of Mt.Fuji, of well-worn but romantic path along Nami Island or reunion photos with long-lost cousins in California – some travel moments were just too good to be NOT shared. 
While I love the sense of “aloneness” that traveling affords me, there are days when I wish I could have shared the moment immediately to my mom and dad, or the husband who was back home: 

emoting in Nami Island



just one of the crowd in Shibuya (can you find me?)


lost in tokyo


writing on a post card in a random stoop in Jiufen County, Taiwan


More than keeping my social media feed happy, having the opportunity to connect to my loved ones back home means letting them know that I am safe and happily enjoying my gallivanting. 

However, being a budget traveler means being dependent on hotel wifi (or worse, public WIFI) to call home using either Messenger or Skype. Like any other traveler, I avoid connecting to my data whenever I go on vacation – the cost can literally maim you after a fun vacation and disputing charges (if any) is like trying to catch a ride with the Lochness Monster (read: pointless). 

Connectivity woes is now a thing of the past thanks to Philippine Airlines’ MyPAL Roam – a global mobile hotspot that provides easy, fast, secure and affordable mobile data anywhere in the world. Made possible through a partnership with SkyRoam, this latest innovation from the country’s flag carrier allows up to five devices to connect on the mobile hotspot for just a reasonable fee of P499 a day


PAL president and COO Jaime J. Bautista


Launched in an exciting affair, spearheaded by PAL head honcho Jaime J. Bautista, who feted this latest innovation from PAL. “We are aware of our passengers’ need to stay connected anywhere in the world. Your flag carrier continues to innovate to further enhance the travel experience. So whether you’re flying across the country or halfway around the globe, we made sure we’ve got you covered,” said Bautista in a statement distributed to the media. 

MyPAL Roam, the first of its kind in the country today, was made possible through the efforts of two gentlemen, PAL’s Ancillary Business Unit VP Kevin Hartigan-Go and SkyRoam’s Buddy Novenario. 

Skyroam’s Buddy Novenario and PAL’s Kevin Hartigan-Go


In an interview, with Hartigan-Go shares gnat the idea for the MyPAL Roam originates from PAL’s desire to improve the over-all passenger convenience. “We understand the passengers’ need to be connected. And we want this connectivity to complete the overall passenger experience. With almost everything  just a click away, getting connected is key…” Hartigan-Go shares. 

According to SkyRoam’s Novenario, the secret behind the nifty little gadget’s power lies in the virtual SIM device it employs. It uses unique technology which allows its users to get connected in any of PAL’s 80 destinations worldwide. Yes, even when you’re in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Latvia, Uzbekistan, The Vatican, Christmas Islands, Liechtenstein or San Marino, among others – MyPAL Roam has you covered. 


The first of its kind in the country


The device may be rented through the PAL boutique, located at the PAL ticket lobby, PNB Financial Center, Pasay. Other rental channels are the NAIA Terminal 2 Departure Area and roam.philippineairlines.com. The device maybe retuned through the PAL Boutique, the NAIA Terminal 2 Arrival Area, home pick-up and Onboard Return service.  

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Reviews

Hotel Feature: Rediscovering Paradise in COAST Boracay 


The last time I was in Boracay, it was mid-June of 2007. I have recently left my job at the shipping line plying the seas of the island and was returning for “the last time – for the time being.” Unlike most people who considered the island as paradise and vacation spot, the nature of my job then made me look at Boracay as just an extension of my office. Unlike the time when I first laid my eyes on the island, my two years of going back and forth Caticlan and its surrounding islands have withered any romance between me and Boracay. 

So imagine going back ten years after and being truly, truly blown away on how far the island has changed during my absence. 


Definitely, the turquoise-colored waters remain as inviting as ever and the fine white sand remained as breath taking. Standing on the shore even for a bit will immediately transported to your own bit of paradise. 

What surprised me more is how far has the island has changed during my decade long absence. New hotels – swankier and posher than the next – has appeared from stations 1 to 3. We are lucky to be able to stay in one of those amazing places. 

COAST Boracay is the latest relaxing haven in Station 2 Boracay, courtesy of the Raintree Hospitality Group, one of the recognized names in F&B Management and the company behind M Cafe, Kabila, among others. 

The hotel has a 71 rooms and immediate access to the beach and the nearby D’Talipapa.  It sits right in the middle of Station 2 and is about a 10-minute walk to the D’Mall, and is surrounded by tons of restaurants and other food kiosks. 

Upon arrival, guests will be greeted with a welcome drink, warm welcoming smiles from the staff and a cold towel to refresh you after the long travel. 

While the other half of the hotel is still being constructed, careful planning by the management made sure that the guests will not feel inconvenienced, no construction noises can be heard or workers seen.

The premises of the hotel is bright, airy and stylish yet very laid back – none of the heavy wood paneling or heavy interior decorating usually seen in other hotels. If you love posting on your social networks, every nook and cranny of the hotel screams #OOTD #BestEver #Lit and would look wicked online.

The rooms are very nicely appointed, the bed tempts you to forget abot the nice view outside and instead vegetate amidst the very soft goose down pillow and luxurious bed sheets. Coast Boracay is also the first to have Smart Television in the island, giving access to its guests to any of the film’s available via Netflix or iFlix. 

Our stay was more than amazing, courtesy of the service shown by the hotel team lead by Pitina, the hotel manager. Staying at Coast automatically leads towards the VIP lifestyle and experience, which starts as soon as your plane reaches Caticlan. Coast will pick you up from the airport, bring you to the Jetty Port through the company’s very own service car, label your luggages while at the Jetty Port and sort them (the next time you’ll see your luggage – you’re already at the hotel), bring you across the island to the Cagban Port where you no longer have to line up the usual disembarking area. Instead, you will disembark away from the crowd and instead ushered straight to the waiting van who will bring you to your hotel. 


COAST Boracay is located at the Station 2 Beach front, Bgy Balabag, Malay, Aklan. 

For room reservations, go to www.coastboracay.com

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Travel News

I Want Seats: Real-Time Online Bus Reservations – travel without the hassle 


One of the things I was considering when I first went to Japan is to enter the country via Osaka and then make way to Tokyo via overnight bus through Willer Bus Service. Willet offers online bus reservations and unlike here in Manila, when you have to buy your physical tickets in advance if you want to travel via bus. 

New online start up iWantSeats is an online bus booking platform in the Philippines which offers deluxe trips to Baguio and Baler to and from Manila via JoyBus.  More routes will be added to serve you the passengers. 
Booking your bus ticket has never been as easy as booking your hotels and airline tickets! With just a few clicks, you can reserve and confirm your seat and just go to the terminal on the day of your trip. 


Explore new places, or travel to and from your city without having to wait hours at the terminal as a chance passenger. Leave the booking to iWantSeats and enjoy more of your trip. 

Book to Baguio or Baler now at iwantseats.com.ph. 

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Hotels, Reviews

Hotel Feature: Meranti Hotel – A nice haven in the heart of Quezon City


The first thing I noticed, after entering the lobby, is the scent: woodsy yet sweet, comforting without being cloying. It’s the scent that lures you in and relaxes you. Later, we are told that the scent was especially commissioned by the owners to suit the ambience of the hotel. 
The hotel is MERANTI HOTEL, a four-star luxury hotel owned by The Max’s Group. The 12-story hotel offers 59 rooms to is guests, complete with a roof top deck, which also houses the quaint swimming pool and two function rooms.

Max’s Group, the company behind the brand, is one of the country’s recognized institutions in the F&B industry and is currently making its first leap in the hospitality industry with Meranti. According to Brix Sebastian, the young but very hardworking hotel manager, the hotel hopes to showcase the best of the Filipino. This is palpable as seen on the beautiful red wicker chairs in the lobby by internationally-known furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, while renowned Filipino design firm Budji+Royal Design Architects designed the interiors. 



To say we were blown away is an undestatement. I was pleasantly surprised to see this impressive hotel standing in a quiet street in Scout Castor, near Timog Avenue in Quezon City. Standing in front of the hotel is the first Max’s restaurant, whose function rooms also serve as an extension for the hotel especially for big social events. 

There is a covered drop off/pick up area which leads to the hotel lobby doubling as dining area for MAPLE FOR MERANTI, the in-house hotel cafe (more of this on a separate feature)

Soon enough, we were introduced to Genevieve Sebastian, the kind front office manager who will lead the quick hotel tour. 

The rooms are located from the fifth floor of the hotel going upwards and features heavy use of wood in its furnishings. Basic standard rooms are spacious and can comfortably fit a couple and a small child. Standard rooms usually feature a twin bed, with complete bath amenities and the standard bath kit.


We also had the opportunity of meeting many of the hotel’s team members and we remarked to Brix that he leads a very young and dynamic team. More than the standard hotel greeting, what is palpable is the energy among staff members: everyone seemed genuinely happy to serve you. 

Apparently in Meranti, they do not greet their guests with “Welcome…” – but instead with “Tuloy Po Kayo,” the hearthy Pinoy welcome that denotes warm hospitality and the promise of a good stay. 

For more information, go to http://www.merantihotel.com

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Hotels, Reviews

A date with the “Grand Old Dame of Manila” – The Manila Hotel

The Manila Hotel stands imposingly on the mouth of the Manila Bay, looking over her subjects like a regal queen granting audience. 

Ever since my days as a rookie lifestyle writer at The Manila Bulletin, it became a habit for me to gawk at the imposing structure, wondering the many secrets and mysteries hiding behind her walls. Consuming a vast number of books (both fiction and otherwise) retelling the glory days of Manila where the elite of Manila would dine under the three gigantic brass chandeliers. 



The imposing and majestic chandeliers were the first to catch our attention, as my sister, husband and I catch up over afternoon tea. A self-confessed aficionado of the afternoon tea, I can’t help but rave on how Manila Hotel made liberties to make the tried and tested British tea tradition into distinctly Filipino. 

Manila Hotel’s version has kesong puti, puti bumbong, bibingka and refillable tea or coffee, aside from the usual pastries. As we lounged on the lobby, we can’t help but steal glances on the large brass chandeliers hanging  overhead – a quick search online showed stated that when the current management took over the hotel, the first order of business is to tore down the three chandeliers and replace it instead with five – in respect to fengshui. 

We were assigned two twin rooms situated across each other. The halls were airy and bright, with a carpet muffling the sound of our footsteps. 


We were surprised to find our rooms very spacious and roomy. Since the rooms are across from each other, we had a view of the Intramuros golf course and the Manila Bay on both sides. 

True to its historical brand, the rooms use dark wood and rich fabric in all its furniture and drapes heavily. The beds are made of solid wood (we suspect it’s Narra), including the TV console which dominated the center of the room. Due to the use of dark wood and rich fabrics the room gave of an old world yet dated vibe. 

But what my dad loved more than any other is the flatscreen TV inside the bathroom. Every one had an excuse to stay longer in the loo.


We spent the rest of the afternoon until the evening at the hotel pool, drinking cocktails and beer ordered straight from the hotel bar embedded on the pool. Our parents loved the sun beds and lounged like a boss until sunset drinking margaritas and eating chips. 

The next morning, we had a quick breakfast at the buffet. Manila Hotel offers one of the most affordable breakfast sets and had the best rates for senior citizens. The selection is not as many and diverse as that of other hotels but it’s still an impressive spread, especially the wide variety of fruits available. 

my lovely sister

some of my greatest treasures, my parents and my niece – Penny


We spent about PHP15,000 for the rest of the  StayCation – including two twin rooms, food trip galore courtesy of the Manila Hotel lobby cafe and pool and a sumptuous breakfast. 

The nice price tag made all of us fans and converts of the idea of staycations. It was also a nice opportunity to get to know more the Grand Old Dame of Manila. 

In spite its age, the Manila Hotel still commands attention and love to those who walk its halls. I was unable to tour the hotel extensively due to family activities so I wasn’t able to see the General McArthur Suite but this only gives me reason to go back. 

As the Grand Old Dame of Manila, there were obvious signs of wear and age – nicks, bumps and scratches, little cracks of tiles and a crummy paint job on the elevator. But like a little old lady, nothing major that a good paint and maintenance check can’t fix. 

These are my two favorites photos of our little staycation: 

penny and me

my beloved


Book a StayCation at The Manila Hotel through their website or through Booking.com. 
Contact details: 

The Manila Hotel 

One Rizal Park, Manila, Philippines 

(02) 527-0011

Disclosure: 

Nothing to disclose. We paid for our stay. 

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