Travel News

Can a torn passport get you deported?

A friend of a friend recently had a traumatizing experience of being deported after his passport was rejected by the Immigration at NAIA. The reason was simple? A torn area, about the size of half a centavo coin, on page 2 of the document where the traveler profile is located.

The incident made me think — can we get deported or refused entry if our passport is damaged? And what constitutes a damaged passport?

This concern wasn’t new. In fact, a year ago, ruckus was raised after a very ill young boy due for treatment in Vietnam was not accepted in a Cebu Pacific flight due to a damaged passport. After an intense back and forth between the family of the boy and Cebu Pacific, and through the intervention of the DFA, a replacement passport was issued to the boy and he was able to get his treatment in Vietnam.

First things first — how do you know if your passport is damaged?
A passport is considered damaged if it contains any of the following:
1. Torn pages, or if the main pages were dislodged from the hard cover. There were many incidents of these when the DFA first introduced the Machine Readable passport, specifically those issued in 2010. Due to more than 500 cases of passports detaching from their cover, the DFA had to announce a recall and free replacement (SOURCE).
2. Worn edges or tear on its pages (punit), specifically the very important Page 2 where our information is indicated. Definitely, your passport is considered “mutilated” and needs to be replaced.
3. Water damage or you forgot it was in your jean pocket/suit pocket and got washed in the washing machine.
4. Obvious puncture marks and holes.
5. Stains on the inside pages

Of course, a passport displaying obvious wear and tear, i.e. a bit bent due to being kept at your back pocket most of the time, or displaying signs of fading on the cover due to constant use is not considered damaged. As long as you keep the inside pages pristine, then you are on the safe side.

I think my passport is damaged, what do I do?
If your passport shows any of the items mentioned above, aside from the superficial wear and tear, make sure to head to the Department of Foreign Affairs office in order to get a replacement.

Here’s a step-by-step process based on the DFA website:
1. Submit Notarized Affidavit of Mutilation (with detailed explanation on when, where and how passport got mutilated or damaged)
2. Original and photocopy of first and last page of mutilated or damaged passport

SOURCE

Bottom line, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Let’s keep our passport protected at all times. I actually read of someone whose passport was chewed on by his dog. Rather than face the inconvenience of having to go for a replacement passport, make sure that we keep our travel documents, like all important document should, safely hidden away.

In the rare chance that it gets damaged due to fault of others (like a very zealous immigration agent), never attempt to mend any of it. Do not use scotch tape or paste or anything that would invalidate your passport right then and there. Note that our immigration laws does not look kindly on tampered passports and the people who do them. When we try to fix our damaged passports on our own, we are essentially tampering with a government document.

(SIDE NOTE: I managed to research photos and videos on how to identify damaged passport and the step-by-step process of getting a replacement at the DFA. However, WordPress’ uploader is not cooperating. I will update this post once the uploader is back to normal).

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Manila!, Travel Tips

Love in the Time of No Pera (Or dating with barely a money in your pocket)

When the Hub and I were just dating both of us were just struggling fresh college grads that were either bumming around (him) or struggling to survive in their first writing job (me). Most of the time, we were broke and barely getting by. However, the strict (to non-existent) budget did not hamper us to spending a day together, discovering new sights and basically slowly getting to know each other’s quirks. The challenge then was to find ways to enjoys ourselves without putting more dent in our pockets.

For this post, I will teach you how to have a fun date with your loved one for less than PHP1,000 bucks. Let’s use the old City of Manila as our destination for this “cheapo date”.

Some more cheap ideas

Some more cheap ideas

I. Transportation
Don’t be afraid of taking the public transportation together.Who knows, it can strengthen your bond since if you are guy, you’ll have the opportunity to protect your girlfriend; and if you are a girl, you can show her that you’re not high maintenance and can kick it with him for spontaneous stuff.

When the hub and I started dating, we used to take public transpo all the time going to our Manila haunt. I would recommend though that you wear comfy clothes and footwear since you’ll be walking all the time. Don’t forget to bring a cap or a bandanna to shield yourself from the sun.

A budget of around P40 per person for a return trip from Makati to Manila is good already. Our first destination for the day is in Intramuros and its environs. To go to Intramuros from Makati (JP Rizal), take the jeepney headed for Taft Avenue (Jeepneys with “Bukid” or “L Guinto” on the signboard all end up in Taft). Fare is about PHP8.50. At Taft Avenue, ride the jeep marked “City Hall”, “SM Manila”, “Divisoria” or “Quiapo” — all of these are passing by Intramuros.

credit goes to owner

credit goes to owner

You will alight at the jeepney stop in front of the Manila City Hall. Take the underpass going to Intramuros and walk straight to the entrance along Victoria Street.

credit to owner

credit to owner

II. A little bit of history and sightseeing
While in Intramuros, you can spend time looking at the ruins of the former walled city. There’s a lot to be learned about the cracked nooks and crannies of the former glorious Walled City. Intramuros (or “Within the Walls”) was the former capital and Seat of Power of the City of Manila during the Spanish Empire. If your other half is a history buff (like me!) they’ll get a kick out of reading the many plaques scattered along the walls telling the story behind the now-crumbling walls. For those who always slept during history class, the walls served as an amazing background to your selfies and “emo” shots which–of course–would look great in your Facebook walls.

From Muralla Street, walk left going to General Luna Street pass the Manila Bulletin building and the Department of Labor building; turn right to General Luna and you will be on your way to San Agustin Church and the San Agustin Church Museum.

The San Agustin Church was one of four Philippine churches constructed during the Spanish colonial period to be designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and is now considered as a National Historical Landmark. (SOURCE)

credit to owner

credit to owner

Inside, take time to say your prayers and be amazed at the unique Baroque architecture of the church. While you’re at it, try searching for the resting place of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, a Spanish navigator who founded the City of Cebu and was named the first Governor-General of the Spanish East Indies (which includes the Philippines, Guam and Marianas Islands). When Lopez de Legazpi died of heart failure in Manila in 1572, he was laid to rest inside the church.

But the best part is yet to come. Inside the San Agustin Church complex is the San Agustin Museum which shouldn’t be missed. Entrance fee is PHP100 per person but I guarantee you that it will be worth it. The opportunity to see artifacts and collections from hundreds of years ago. There is no time limit and you can take as long as you like admiring paintings, scupltures and the architecture of the church. Who knows, you might have a newly-found appreciation to our history. Flash photography is not allowed on the upper floors.

The hub and I went here a few years before, out on a whim. While the tall religious structures terrified me at first, there is a surreal feeling of walking along these century-old halls. You can’t help but wonder if you’ll be passing by Jose Rizal as he ponders the fate of the nation in the church’s many halls — for the record, if that happens, you have the option of running away, fast.

Let’s say you started the date at 9AM, by this time — you’ll be starving. If you’ll walk further along General Luna, you will find the Manila Cathedral and in front of it are the many fast food restaurants where you can have your lunch. But if you want to stay classy (you are on a date, after all) you can also try Ristorante Delle Mitre which is owned by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and is directly in front of the Manila Cathedral. Their rice toppings go for PHP118 per order while there are other more expensive items on the menu. There are also pastries, coffee, iced tea being offered so it all depends on your budget. (Their Facebook page here)

By the time you finish lunch, it’ll be mid noon and the sun will be shining at its brightest. You can head out and trace your steps going back to Muralla and then to City Hall and then to the airconed confines of SM Manila if you like. By then, you would have spent about PHP600 for the museum tour and the lunch, plus enough for round trip fares. You can either pass time window shopping or at the game arcade located at the mall’s 5th floor.

Or if you want from San Agustin Church you can ride the jeep going to Rizal Park where you can pass time on the park’s many gardens. Entrance for the Japanese Garden is very minimal and the strong shade of many trees can protect you from the stifling heat.

The point of this post is that if we want to spend time with our loved ones, money shouldn’t really be a concern. There are a lot of free attractions within the city and everything is pretty much accessible–horrendous traffic be damned. What’s important is we discover new things and share new experiences together. After all, that’s the point of being in a relationship?


PS: I will try to look for our old photos inside the San Agustin Museum and update this post with the pics. It’s been a long time that I am now tempted to return to San Augustin and make new memories.

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Asia, Philippines

Mark your Calendars! Philippine Fiestas this June

Do you have plans of seeing the Philippines before the classes start? Wanted to imbibe the sound and colors of the provinces by being in the thick of the action during the fiesta month?

I will never forget the first time I attended Bacolod’s “Masskara Festival” (held every October). It was probably one of the loudest and most colorful celebration I have attended in my life. To this day, and even if I have managed to see other places outside the country — I’ve always regretted not seeing more of my country. The last time I traveled extensively to the Philippines’ many provinces was almost seven or eight years ago when I used to work for a local interisland ferry.

If you are from the Philippines — I hope you won’t be like me. It’s the time to celebrate our culture and see more of our country and meet our kababayans from provinces near and far Metro Manila. In fact, one of my goals this year is to see more of the Philippines. Sabi nga nila, “Huwag maging dayuhan sa sariling bayan…” (Do not be a stranger in your own country)

If you are from outside the country — it’s an opportunity to soak in the culture, sights and sounds of the Philippines. With more than 7,100 islands, there’s just so much more to discover and see. You will fall in love with the simplicity and generosity of the people from the provinces as they share their hearth and home to you during the festivities.

The Zambulawan Festival of Pagadian City

The Zambulawan Festival of Pagadian City

Below are some of the festivals being celebrated all through out June. Links for festival information can be found here

PUJADA BAY FESTIVAL
Mati, Davao Oriental
June 19-24

BILANG-BILANG ABAYAN FESTIVAL
Balangay Taft, Surigao City, Surigao del Norte
June 01

RIZAL ARTIST FESTIVAL
Angono, Rizal
June 1- June 30

SAKAY-SAKAY ABAYAN (FLUVIAL PROCESSION)
Barangay Taft, Surigao City
June 1

LINGGO NG ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE & “SARDINES AND MANGO FESTIVAL”
Dipolog City
June 1- June 6

PHILIPPINE EAGLE WEEK
Davao City
June 1- June 6

SUROY SA SURIGAO (GUIDED FAMILIARIZATION TOURS)
Dinagat and Siaragao Island
June 1- August 31

CAMOTES CASSAVA FESTIVAL
Tudela, Camotes Island
June 8-14

CARRERA HABAGAT
Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte
June 8- June 12

ARAW NG AGUSAN DEL NORTE
Agusan del Norte
June 12- June 17

ARAW NG AGUSAN DEL SUR
Agusan del Sur
June 12- June 12

INDEPENDENCE DAY
Cavite, Manila, and other historical site, (nationwide)
June 12

ARAW NG COTABATO
Cotabato City
June 12-20

LA TRINIDAD FOUNDATION DAY
La Trinidad, Benguet
June 12- June 16

INDEPENDENCE DAY (BAGUIO CITY)
Baguio City
June 12

BATTLE OF BESANG PASS
Cervantes, Ilocos Sur
June 14

PINYASAN (PINEAPPLE) FESTIVAL
Camarines Norte
June 15- June 23

NALIYAGAN FESTIVAL
Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur
June 12- June 17

BARAGATAN SA PALAWAN (FOUNDATION DAY)
Provincial Capitol Compound, Puerto Princesa City
June 10-23

PISTA Y ANG KAGUEBAN
Puerto Princesa City, Palawan
June 20- June 27 (3rd week of June)

ADLAW NAN SURIGAO
Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur
June 19

RIZAL DAY
Calamba, Laguna
June 19

PISTA NG KALIKASAN
Provincewide, Palawan
June 19

LINGGANAY FESTIVAL
Alang-alang, Leyte
June 18

DAPITAN’S CHARTER
Dapitan City
June 19- June 22

“OYANGE KAUGMAN” FESTIVAL
Polangui, Albay
June 20- June 29

ZAMBULAWAN FESTIVAL (Street pageantry)
Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur
June 20

PILI FESTIVAL
Sorsogon, Sorsogon
June 20- June 29

MUDPACK FESTIVAL
Murcia, Negros Occidental
June 21-22

DIWATA FESTIVAL
San Francisco, Agusan del Sur
June 21

PAGADIAN CITY CHARTER DAY
Pagadian City
June 21

KALIGUAN FLUVIAL FESTIVAL
Cagwait, Surigao del Sur
June 24

CALUMPIT “LIBAD” FESTIVAL_
Calumpit, Bulacan
June 23

PIAT SAMBALI FESTIVAL (RELIGIOUS)
Piat, Cagayan
June 23 – July 2

AGGAW NAK CAGAYAN (CAGAYAN FOUNDING ANNIVERSARY)
Province of Cagayan
June 23- June 30

TOURISM CONGRESS
Cebu City
June 24

FEAST OF SAN ANTONIO DE PADUA
Pilia. Laguna
June 24

FEAST OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST / LECHON FESTIVAL
Mindoro Oriental
June 24

REGADA WATER FESTIVAL
Cavite City
June 17-24

ARAW NG MAYNILA
Manila City
June 24

TAONG-PUTIK FESTIVAL
Aliaga, Nueva Ecija
June 24

PARADA NG LECHON
Balayan, Batangas
June 24

WATTAH! WATTAH! SAN JUAN FIESTA
San Juan City
June 24

FEAST OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST
San Juan, Metro Manila
June 25

PALO PALO FESTIVAL
Batanes
June 26

TAEPHAG FESTIVAL
Tagbina, Sutigao del Sur
June 27

SIRONG-SIRONG FESTIVAL
Cagdianao, Surigao del Norte
June 28- June 29

KALILANG SA RANAO
Marawi City, Lanao del Sur
June 28 – July 05

SUBIRAN REGATTA
Family Park, Cancabato Bay, Tacloban City
June 28

APUNG IRU FLUVIAL FESTIVAL
Apalit, Pampanga
June 28 30

PINTADOS FESTIVAL
Tacloban City, Leyte
June 27

BALYUAN RITES
Taclobay City, Leyte
June 20

BAILES DE ARCOS
Makati City
June 29

BINIRAY FESTIVAL
Bulalacao, Mindoro Oriental
June 29

KANIYOG’N FESTIVAL
Brooke’s Point, Palawan
June 28

RIZAL PROVINCE FOUNDATION DAY
Rizal (No definite venue)
June 11

"...ang mamatay ng dahil sa'yo"

“…ang mamatay ng dahil sa’yo”

INDEPENDENCE DAY
Kawit, Cavite
June 12

SAB’UYAN FESTIVAL / FEAST OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST
Pola, Oriental Mindoro
June 24

LUBID – LUBID FESTIVAL AND COW PARADE
Tiaong, Quezon
June 24

RIZAL WREATH LAYING
Dapitan City
June 19

SAN JUAN CITYHOOD ANNIVERSAY
San Juan City
June 17

INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION
San Juan City
June 12

VICTORY AT BACSIL RIDGE
San Fernando City, La Union
June 14

BATAC CHARTER DAY & EMPANADA FESTIVAL
BATAC, ILOCOS NORTE
June 23

PAYUHWAN FESTIVAL: BATANES DAY
Province of Batanes
June 21-26

BAYKAT FESTIVAL, AMBAGUIO TOWN FIESTA
Ambaguio, Nueva Vizcaya
June 17-19

PANAGSASALUG FIESTA
Maddela, Quirino
June 12-15

QUEZON TOWN FIESTA
Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya
June 17-20

GINNAMULUAN FIESTA
Cabarroguis, Quirino
June 20-21

LECHONAN SA BAROY
BAROY, LANAO DEL NORTE
June 10

ARAW NG QUEZON
QUEZON, BUKIDNON
June 12-18

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY CHARTER DAY
Cagayan de Oro City
June 15

ILIGAN CITY CHARTER DAY
RIZAL PARK, ILIGAN CITY
June 16

TAGNIPAN-ON FESTIVAL
EL SALVADOR CITY, MISAMIS ORIENTAL
June 17

SAN JUAN SA HIBOK-HIBOK FESTIVAL
CAMIGUIN (province wide)
June 24

SAKAY-SAKAY FESTIVAL
JIMENEZ, MISAMIS OCCIDENTAL
June 27-29

KAHALAWAN TE SEBSEB “SPRING FESTIVAL”
MARAMAG, BUKIDNON
June 30

ARAW NG SAN FERNANDO BUKIDNON
SAN FERNANDO, BUKIDNON
June 18

ST. PETER TOWN FIESTA
SUGBONGCOGON, MISAMIS ORIENTAL
June 19

ARAW NG EL SALVADOR
EL SALVADOR CITY, MISAMIS ORIENTAL
June 27

ARAW NG MARAMAG
MARAMAG, BUKIDNON
June 27

SUGBONGCOGONTOWN FIESTA / SACRED HEART OF JESUS
SUGBONGCOGON, MISAMIS ORIENTAL
June 29

3RD SANGYAW FESTIVAL
Tacloban City
June 20

IKID-IKID SA HONONGANAN FESTIVAL
Hinunangan, Southern Leyte
June 25

3RD SANGYAW FESTIVAL SEARCH FOR MS. TACLOBAN
Tacloban City Convention Center
June 27

16TH LEYTE KASADYAAN FESTIVAL OF FESTIVALS STREET DANCE AND RITUAL DANCE COMPETITION
Leyte Sports & Development Center, Tacloban City, Leyte
June 27

BITUON HAN LEYTE KASADYAAN
Leyte Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival Park, Tacloban City
June 25

SANGYAW FESTIVAL STREET DANCE AND RITUAL DANCE COMPETITION
Tacloban City
June 29

BONSAI FESTIVAL AND FOUNDING ANNIVERSARY OF SAN ISIDRO
San Isidro, Davao
June 12

DORONG FESTIVAL
Kapatagan, Digos City
June 16

KAIMONAN FESTIVAL
Maco, ComVal
June 17

WHITE NIGHTS FESTIVAL
Davao del Norte, Brgy, Poblacion, Kaputian District
June 18-19 (Every 3rd week-end)

PANGAPOG FESTIVAL
Sta. Maria
June 13-18

DORONG FESTIVAL
Kapatagan, Digos City
June 14-19

DORONG FESTIVAL
Kapatagan, Digos City
June 14-19

DAMSU CULTURAL FESTIVAL
Kiblawan
June 16

CADANG – CADANG FESTIVAL
Mun. of Carmen, Davao del Norte
June 18

CACABYAWAN FESTIVAL
Municipality of San Isidro
June 27

PABULIG FESTIVAL
Boston, Davao Oriental
June 18-19

CCLS PHOTO COMPETITION AND EXHIBIT
Venue to be finalized by organizers
June 27

TOURISM, CULTURE & HERITAGE SHOWCASE
Leyte (Venue to be finalized by organizers)
June 27-29ESTIVAL
Tabuk City, Kalinga
June 24-26

Source: Department of Tourism website

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Philippines, press release

Davao aims for World-class Tourism Services

PRESS RELEASE

Davao is improving its tour guide services to attract more visitors, create more jobs, and put the province on the map as a global travel destination.

“Davao is considered one of safest cities globally, with some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, best seafood, and amazing eco-tourism attractions,” said GeneRose Tecson, president of The Guide Union for Inbound Destination and Ecotourism (GUIDE), Inc. “Tour guides are recognized as important ambassadors, and by providing them with world-class training, we hope to take a big step towards making Davao one of the region’s most desirable cities for tourists.”

To upgrade the quality of its services, GUIDE Davao recently concluded a series of training program on tour guiding services using the tourism skills grant from the Department of Tourism (DOT). Funded by the Government of Canada and administered by Asian Development Bank (ADB) under the Philippines Improving Competitiveness in Tourism (PICTourism) program, it was designed to support the government’s effort to achieve inclusive growth and create employment opportunities in tourism.

“More than providing financial assistance to support professional skills training, the grant will usher in jobs and opportunities for growth for young Davaoeños,” Tecson said. “Using what we learned from the training, we seek to expand training and mentoring to junior tour guides in various cities and municipalities in the Davao region and help develop a new breed of tourism industry workers.”

Tecson said that while members of their group are licensed and accredited by the DOT and have received previous trainings, they seek to benefit from more relevant training courses to achieve world-class status. With the help of the skills grant, they conducted workshops on personality development, quality in
communications, security awareness, train the trainers, and professional tour guiding.

Discover the beauty of Davao with your own personal tour guide! This gentleman hopes to share with guests the many wonders of Davao

Discover the beauty of Davao with your own personal tour guide!

Mock Sea Tour Guiding in Davao

Mock Sea Tour Guiding in Davao

For the personality development, quality in communications, and train the trainers, the group enlisted the services of Davao-based Joji Ilagan Career Center Foundation, Inc. Meanwhile, to improve their skills on tour guiding techniques, the group was trained by U.S.-based multilingual tour manager and tourist guide trainer Maricar Donato.

As a result of the trainings, GUIDE Davao generated more awareness on their group, increasing its membership by up to almost 50 percent. With the help of DOT-ADB-Canada grant, GUIDE Davao hopes to improve its services and training programs to align with the standards of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Tourism as well as the newly-implemented standards of the DOT.

GUIDE Davao also hopes to become a key driving force in making their province known more globally, with tour guides as Davao’s fifth icon. Davao is best known for its Durian fruit, the Waling Orchid, Mount Apo and the Philippine Eagle.

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While I was fortunate to tick off Japan, Taiwan and South Korea to my list of go-to places. There are still many wonders of the Philippines that I have yet to see. This includes Bohol, Sagada and Davao. Davao, for one, is considered one of the safest province in the Philippines, with its economy also recognized as one of the fastest growing.

Davao holds a wealth of wonders that I have yet to discover. Who wouldn’t want to see Mt. Apo upclose? Or experience the flurry of colors and the festivities of the Kadayawan Festival?

This recent program surely enhances the touring experience by lending a credible and efficient experience to first-time visitors to Davao. While I seldom join tours (because I prefer exploring things on my own), there are instances when having an insider with you, or someone that has more in-depth knowledge of the place, culture and history, is sure to enhance the experience further. This is something I learned when I signed up for a tour for the Secret Garden of Changdukgung Palace in Korea last November. Without the guide, the palace were nothing but a magnificent fortification. The expert opinion, amazing story telling of history and the direction of an experienced tour guide made all the difference.

Who knows? This might be the opportunity to know the history behind some of Davao’s most famous landmarks. This commendable effort by the local tourism office, the city, the private sector and GUIDE Davao will surely open a lot of opportunities: not only for the tour guides, but also for travelers like me off to brand new adventures.

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Japan, Preps and Research

Japan-Envy

In just two days, it’ll be a full year after I have finally visited Tokyo, the land of my dreams and a regular fixture of “winning the lotto jackpot” fantasies.

There is not a day that I always look back on the day when I first saw Tokyo with my own eyes — how I cried when I saw the Sky Tree looming over the horizon as the airport limousine bus crossed the skyway leading to the city.

Call it crazy, but my dream of seeing Japan (or at least, Tokyo) took me at least 20 years. That was worth a liter of tears, right?

This View.

This View.

The moment I boarded the plane going back to Manila, I already wanted to go back.

This year, my Facebook feed is filled with photos of people celebrating holidays in Japan — Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s, Holy Week, birthdays and just everything in between in Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto. The flurry of pictures, of cherry blossoms and Osaka Castle and the big Gundam automatically induces “Japan-Envy” in me. Or: the unmistakable deep envy felt towards anyone currently in Japan at the moment. A bit crazy, I know but I actually know of people that feels the exact way like I do.

The good news is that I am currently planning a second honeymoon for the hubs and myself in Osaka. We are planning to catch the end part of winter in February 2016 but this early, I am again stricken with the unmistakable dread of wanting to plan everything. I managed to convinced the Hubs to renew his passport (we are going to DFA this week) and next on my Gaant Chart is the purchase of cheap tickets going to Osaka. I am still trying to decide if we should fly in to Osaka, then fly out of Tokyo after – it’s a possibility that I can’t wait to try.

Since I might not be traveling out of the country as much this year (in lieu of the Osaka-Kyoto-Tokyo trip being planned for 2016, I promise to feature more local destinations and tourist spots in Manila.

So, please cross your fingers for me and the Hubs. If ever, this will be his first time in Japan and I would like to make it as magical as possible for him, as it was for me.

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