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 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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Philippines, Travel News

Here’s something to do in the Philippines: go to Bonbon Festival, a celebration of Art, Environment and Community!

 Looking forward to another adventure in the Philiipines, but already running out of ideas for a great summer adventure? 

Why don’t you try BONBON FESTIVAL held at Sitio Tagbakin, Brgy. Halang Lipa City, Batangas this coming May 21, 2016 from 6am onwards. 

Now on it’s second year, Bonbon Festival is back to celebrate Arts, Environment and Community in a one of a kind one-day event which will be participated by young professionals, students, different artists in Batangas Province, and invited guests from other places. Bonbon Festival is the first eco-green festival in the province which aims to support and sustain the environment by using arts and culture as one of the tools for preservation and development. The festival will be 

 

What to expect: 

Gala at Pasyal sa Lawa/ Knowledge Tour

Know the story of the lake region and eruption history of Taal Volcano via boat ride from Sitio Tagbakin, Lipa City to San Nicolas to Volcano Island and back. Enjoy the horse ride and trek with local tour guide and the rest of the team.
Mananghalian/Lunch

Savor a sumptuous lunch of Batangas fusion cuisine and local refreshments.

 

Huntahan sa Lawa/ Talkback

Join a series of meaningful talkback and discussions about Art and Environment with interactive community workshops that culminates the afternoon activities.

 

Hapunan/ Dinner by the Lake, Art Installations and Performance Art

Experience Batangas Art and Culture through performances. Listen to the old time Kundiman music plus musical performances dedicated to Taal led by independent Batangueno musicians including LAC Music Department. Cocktails are available with a party capping the night with all-out-fun and dancing.

 

Participants may choose from 2 packages:

 For inquiries and ticket purchase you may contact: Mr. Carlo Aguila at 043-740-7112 or 0917 877-9144. 

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Travel News

Thailand bolsters exhibition ties with the Philippines 

It’s time for Filipino businesses to showcase in Thailand and take advantage of the exceptional standards and attendance in Thailand trade shows. 

This was the premise of the recently-launched “Thailand Extra Exhibition”, a trade show mounted by the Thailand Convention and Exhubition Bureau (TCEB) in cooperation with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands (CPPI). The trade show promoted Thaikand’s seven leading professional exhibition organizers in automotive & logistics, food & agriculture, energy and health & wellness. 

TCEB exhibitions and events director Ms. Jaruwan Suwannasat (middle) joined by former DOT secretary Mina Gabor and representatives from the top exhibiiton organizers in Thailand

 The new global marketing initiative, dubbed “Thailand Extra Exhibition” is being launched to offer the Philippine businesses with extra benefits and better connections with Thailand’s wide spectrum of services. The initiative underlines the country’s strengths and privileges through a number of core initiatives that will be implemented in 2016 to emphasize Thailand’s value in the next stage of the ASEAN connectivity and show Thailand’s huge potential as a marketplace for exhibitions and with that, unrivaled business opportunities. 

The Philippines and Thailand enjoy a close and win-win partnership when it comes to commerce and trade. To expand trade value between the two countries, TCEB together with international trade show organizers from Thailand banded together to step up its efforts in marketing and enhancing cooperation in the exhibition industry. 

In her message to attendees during the press one, Suwannasat highlights the growing trade potential between the two countries, “Thailand Extra Exhibition is the latest initiative to come from the team of the Thailand Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), showcasing three key attributes of doing business in Thailand. These factors, combined with the TCEB’s world-class’s support and service infrastructure, position Thailabd as a marketplace with outstanding potential for the exhibition industry, and by extension for companies looking to access markets in the ASEAN and Greater Mekong Sub-region.”

Currently, the Philippines is considered one of the priority countries for Thailand due to the long-established trade relations and growing trade volume between the two countries, at $8.4 billion in 2014. Thailand was the Philippines’ eight largest trading partner while the Philippines is Thailand’s 6th largest trading partner in ASEAN and 18th biggest in the world. 

Present during the presentation of the Thailand Extra Exhibition are representatives from seven of Thailand’s biggest exhibition organizers including UBM Asia (Thailand), Impact Exhibition Services, NEO Exhibition Organizers, Nishio, Bangkok Exhibition Services, VNU Asia-Pacific Exhibitions and VICTAM. 

Impact, for example, also manages what is currently the biggest exhibition area and venue in SouthEast Asia – slated to be a venue to some of the most successful series of trade shows.

TECB highlighted one of the growing exhibition markets for the beauty and cosmetics industries, as well as the agriculture sector. For the beauty sector alone – one organizer Impact has already organized for two major exhibitions, with usual attendance of 11,000 exhibitors and guests from across 50 countries. 

Exhibitions in Thailand reached a milestone with a record 103 trade shows in 2015. This year, the country expects to welcome 190,400 international exhibition delegates generating a total of 17 billion baht. 

The continuing emergence of Thailand as an exhibition destination also poised questions when it comes to safety of delegates. TECB assures the media of their continued diligence and coordination with the police for any threat that might poise risk for tourists and attendees. TECB underscores the importance of constant communication with the authorities as well as constant sharing of info to delegates and exhibitors alike as key to ensuring peace of mind of the many attendees of the numerous exhibitions in Thailand. 

For more information or to get a complete list of trade shows, visit www.businesseventsthailand.com

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press release, Travel News

The 26th Philippine Travel Mart: Up to 50% Discount in all travel deals courtesy of Shroff Travel!

(Press Release)

It’s time one again for the Philippine Travel Mart, one of the country’s biggest travel fair, happening from September 4-6 at the SMX Convention Center.

One of the participants is making this year’s travel mart sweeter for travel aficionados by coming up with a tempting offer of up to 50% discounts on selected travel destinations.

Backed with more than  21 years of experience in the travel and tourism industry, Shroff Travel guarantees its customers with professional services in providing overall solutions to their travel needs. This year, as participants of PHILTOAs 26th Philippine Travel Mart, Shroff is offering international and domestic exclusive travel deals that will surely make everyone excited to take their next holiday!

Below are just some of their exciting offerings:

SHROFF TRAVEL Domestic & International Tour Promos for PTM 2015 (FINAL)

INTERNATIONAL PACKAGES

3D 2N – SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA with Tours – USD 173

3D 2N – BEIJING, CHINA with compulsory Tours – USD 64

3D 2N – HO CHI MINH Free & Easy Only – USD 72

3D 2N – HANOI Free & Easy – USD 75

3D 2N – BALI INDONESIA Free & Easy Only – USD 62

3D 2N – KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA with Half Day City Tour – USD 76

3D 2N – BANGKOK, THAILAND with Tour – USD 92

3D 2N – SINGAPORE – USD 145

3D 2N – KOTA KINABALU, MALAYSIA Free & Easy – USD 124

3D 2N – SEOUL, KOREA with Complimentary City Tour – USD 170

3D 2N – MYANMAR with Tours – USD 196

4D 3N – OSAKA, JAPAN Free & Easy Only – USD 720

4D 3N – TOKYO, JAPAN Free & Easy Only – USD 812

DOMESTIC PACKAGES  3D 2N FREE & EASY for as low as:

Puerto Princesa – Php 1,948

Cebu – Php 1,959

Coron – Php 1,969

Boracay – Php 1,990

Batanes – Php 2,736

Davao – Php 2,754

Bohol – Php 2,756

Ilocos – Php 3,782

El Nido – Php 3,932

For  more details about these travel deals and other tour packages, please check the NOTES on Shroff Travel Facebook Page.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/shroff-travel/exclusive-travel-deals-for-26th-philippine-travel-mart/1609228186005872

Experience Life with Shroff Travel!

SHROFF TRAVEL aims to give everyone memorable travel experiences especially those who have great passion for exploration. That’s one of the reasons why they make it easier and affordable for tourists to discover the Philippines and the rest of world by offering these special travel deals. They also offer flight promos and issues ticket on all airlines so booking your tour with them is hassle free.

For more information about Shroff Travel exclusive travel deals, please visit their BOOTH # F1037 & F1042 during the 26th Philippine Travel Mart at SMX Convention Center (SM MoA) on September 4-6, 2015.

For complete information about their available services and packages, please contact  (+63 2) 524 2222 / (+63 2) 524 3636 or text 0917 890 3637. You may also visit their website http://www.shrofftravel.com to search for available tours, flights, hotels, transfers and other travel needs. Book competitive offers with great value for your money!

Stay connected with Shroff Travel! Like them on Facebook  for a chance to win a 3day 3 nights stay in Boracay! Follow their Instagram / Twitter @ShroffTravel and don’t forget to them your travel photos and use their hashtag for a chance to win surprise gift from them. #ExperienceLife #ShroffTravel #WeCare

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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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South Korea, Travel News

South Korean Embassy announces new Tourist Visa requirements

The South Korean Embassy announced recently its new documentary requirements for those who would like to get Tourist Visas to South Korea.

I have written about the Requirements for Tourist Visa before during my first visit last 2012. But last February 17, the embassy announced new requirements which will take effect starting 01 March 2015. This means that all applications which will be received by the embassy from March 01, moving forward should have the following requirements.

Below is the screen shot I took of the announcement posted at the South Korean embassy website.

new visa requirements_SK_2015

It’s unfortunate that the embassy has become more strict and more thorough when it comes to their requirements. In a hindsight, they are actually asking for the same requirements like before, the difference is that they are more thorough and specific with the information that should be included in the posting.

For the Bank Certificate requirements, these information can be requested from the bank itself once you asked for the certificate. In my opinion, what is a bit tricky is for those whose bank account does not usually show a regular flow of savings or input of money. For those who maintain a regular savings account and regularly deposit in their account, any of the changes indicated by the embassy is not a big deal. My impression is that the embassy wants to make sure that there is a regular input of money or savings in the bank account, and not a one-time, big-time kind of thing.

For those who have regular savings account, you must now collate the account statements usually sent by our banks once a month. For BPI account holders, you can actually print this on your own if you have a BPI Express Online account. Again, my impression is that the embassy wants to see the regular input-output of your finances.

Lastly, a bit of a reminder for the submission of ITR. Sometimes, we have to verify with our respective HRs if the TIN numbers reflected in our ITRs are correct. For example, my good friend (who was with me during my last Korea trip) discovered that there is a discrepancy in her TIN number when she submitted her ITR certificate during her visa application. While it is not of her own doing, she had to personally verify with our HR (and yes, only to confirm that there was a problem in the inputting of her TIN) and sort the problem herself at the BIR office. Of course, in the end she was given a visa — but the bottom line is that this proves that the embassy thoroughly checks every document we submit.

On a related note, another announcement included in the SK Embassy’s Visa Announcement page explicitly indicates that a passport should be at least six months valid at the time of the Visa application. So, if you have plans applying for a tourist visa for South Korea and your passport has already barely a year left in its validity, might I recommend that you also take the opportunity to have it renewed prior to going to the embassy? This will save you time and save you from a series of “what if’s…”

Good luck on your Visa Application and just remember that after all the hassle of making sure your documents are in order — it’ll be all worth it as soon as you land in South Korea and you see just how beautiful and wonderful your experience will be.

SOURCE:
The Embassy of the Republic of South Korea – Manila

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Philippines, Travel News

Department of Tourism recognizes its “Tourism Stars”


When I started this blog, my reason was to show everyone how going places don’t have to be extensive. I have detailed my travels in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, expressing how by proper planning, one can always go where your wandering can take you without the prohibitive cost. But as time goes on, I noticed that I have been remissed in featuring places from my own country, the Philippines.

When I was younger, I had the pleasure of being able to go places just because I work for Negros Navigation (now 2Go Shipping), which was one of the country’s longest-serving inter-island shipping company. My stay with Negros Navigation allowed me to see Palawan, Cagayan de Oro, Roxas City, Bacolod, Iloilo, Cebu, Aklan, Boracay, Marawi and Iligan all while serving thousands and thousands of Filipinos who still travel and traverse this country and its many islands through passenger ships. I met a lot of wonderful people–dedicated people actually–whose living was directly correlated to Tourism. They were the many tour guides, ship captains, stewards & F&B people, the tourism officers who welcomed us to their offices and even the local businesses who never ceased to provide exceptional service to their guests.

When I left Negros Navigation, my local travel also diminished greatly. The advent of low fares, plus my obsession with budget traveling, has made going to foreign countries more possible, and yes more affordable. This year, I vowed to visit the country more and make my version of traveling on a budget locally.

This decision was amplified when I had the opportunity to attend the Department of Tourism (DOT)’s awarding of its first-ever batch of “Tourism Stars” – comprised of a select group of individuals who was nominated and voted by the public who displayed commitment and dedication in promoting Philippine tourism.

tourismStar awards-Screengrab from DOT's Instagram Account
The first batch of Tourism Star awardees, from L to R: Albay Governor Joey Salceda; media personality and host of Biyahe ni Drew, Drew Arellano; blogger Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet; diver Bobby Andrao and young tourist guide Gerry Bie Dalimag (PHOTO GRAB FROM DOT INSTAGRAM PAGE)

PRESS RELEASE
The Department of Tourism (DOT) honors today the first batch of individuals who have exemplified excellence and dedication in driving the Philippine tourism industry forward, under the Tourism Star Philippines (TSP) program.

Tourism Star Philippines is a recognition program developed to celebrate the valuable contribution of Filipinos from the tourism industry, media, and local government units. Through TSP, DOT seeks to underscore the distinct Filipino brand of warm hospitality that marks our culture of tourism.

The very first roster of Tourism Stars include Gerry BieDalimag and Bobby Adrao for the Individual Category; Drew Arellano of Biyaheni Drew in GMA-7 and Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet for the Media Category; and Governor Joey Salceda of Albay for the Local Chief Executive (LCE) Category.

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Dalimag, a college student who serves as a local volunteer guide around the famous Callao Caves in Cagayan. At a very young age, he has helped in boosting the province’s local tourism by taking his guiding responsibilities to heart, which earned him the respect and commendation from various people and even the media.

IMG_0473

Adrao, on the other hand, is a licensed Butanding interaction officer and a dive master in Donsol, Sorsogon. In addition to advocating safe and environment-friendly diving practices, Adrao represents a Filipino tourism frontliner who goes beyond the call of duty to save the lives of an Australian couple who went adrift in the rough seas while diving due to inclement weather.

Popular celebrity Arellano headlines a local TV show called Biyaheni Drew, which features fun travel adventures in different Philippine destination every week. Known for his quirky and entertaining brand of hosting, Arellano successfully embodies the “It’s more fun in the Philippines” concept. Diaz, meanwhile, is the man behind Our Awesome Planet (https://www.ourawesomeplanet.com), a top lifestyle blog that showcases the best of food and travel destinations in the Philippines. Founded in 2005, it has generated thousands of followers and readers that are able to share his experiences and discoveries in various places in the country.

Governor Salceda, who is receiving the award in the LCE category, led the Albay region’s phenomenal growth in tourism as it rose from the ruins of disasters that stunted the province for decades. As former economic adviser to previous presidents, Governor Salceda has successfully implemented a comprehensive tourism work program in Albay, bringing to the fore various regulations and investment projects to achieve significant tourism development.

Anchored on DOT’s It’s more fun in the Philippines campaign, the Tourism Star Philippines also marks a significant milestone for the agency, as it is part of the full implementation of the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) which leverages on public-private sector partnerships to improve competitiveness of tourism facilities and services, capacitate local government units, ensure sustainable tourism development and initiate focused marketing and promotions.

Among the nominees received from February to June 2014, DOT implemented a rigorous selection process for those who demonstrated the strongest and deepest commitment to promote the country’s tourism in their own ways. For the Individual Category, nominations were received through the program website and through drop boxes located at domestic airport terminals nationwide. Meanwhile, Local Tourism Councils nominated their mayors or governors for the LCE Category by submitting the completely filled out nomination form with the documentary requirements to concerned DOT Regional Offices. Nominations for the Media Category, which was added two months after the launch, were solicited from Tourism and Travel Associations nationwide.

After the screening process, a final evaluation was conducted by the TSP Screening Committee composed of representatives from the DOT’s Office of the Undersecretary for Tourism Regulation, Coordination, and Resource Generation (TRCRG) and Office of Tourism Standards and Regulation (OTSR), as well as the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), one of the program’s institutional partners. All submitted documentary requirements were validated through the help of the DOT Regional Offices and the local tourism offices. For the LCE Category, documents were rated using the following criteria: Institutional, promotions, planning and product development, regulatory, investments, and centrepiece projects with additional points in consideration of their support to DOT advocacies. Media nominees, on the other hand, were chosen based on the votes they received through online voting; content and substance and relevance of work to the Philippine tourism industry; impact and significant contribution to the It’s More Fun in the Philippines campaign; creativity and uniqueness of shows/ articles and information presented.

Awardees of Tourism Stars Philippines will receive trophies and medals, as well as gifts from program partners: a pre-loaded More Fun Prepaid card from the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), scholarship from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), phones and tablets from MyPhone, and a kabuhayan package from Duty Free Philippines (DFP).

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“The Philippine tourism is undoubtedly the fastest growing industry in the country, taking on a significant role in our economy. We believe that we owe this tremendous growth to our people. Without them, our destinations would only be a mere landscape. It is our people that give these beautiful destinations life and meaning. And the Tourism Star Program honors these individuals who truly make it more fun in the Philippines,” DOT Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. said.

Disclaimer:
Article is part of my coverage of the recently concluded Tourism Star Awards, made possible through the invitation of the DOT.

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Travel News

Are you an FCB fan? Here’s a TVC you will enjoy!

My sister and the hubby are big FC Barcelona fans — so this TV commercial is for them. Props to Qatar Airways for coming up with a TVC that highlights the partnership with one of the premiere football clubs in the world through a TVC that is just enjoyable to watch.

I am not a big fan and I do not follow (European) football like the sis and the hubby do, but for an avid traveler, this is a land I don’t mind going. Who would say “no” to football footwork/”dance” lessons with Messi? Not me, definitely!

FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona

Incidentally, did you know that one of FC Barcelona’s legendary players was a Pinoy? His name is Paulino Alcantara and he is considered as FCB’s first ever superstar. For the longest time, he held the record as Barca’s All-Time Top Scorer, until Leo Messi surpassed this record last March 2014.

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Travel News

Green Frog Hybrid Bus: New Transportation Option in Manila

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The Green Frog Hybrid Bus is the latest option when you want to travel from Manila to Makati (and vice versa) in a safe and comfortable manner. If you are familiar with the buses the ply Hong Kong and particularly Singapore, then you will be pleasantly surprise to see them (or something that looks like them) plying the streets of Manila.

Launched just recently, Green Frog Buses initially have two buses that travel the LRT-Taft to C5 Kalayaan Makati route. Within the Buendia stretch, there are specially-marked areas where the buses load and unload their passengers.

Bus Stops for the 2 initial units

Bus Stops for the 2 initial units

Due to the limited bus units and Manila’s usual traffic congestion, waiting for the Green Frog Bus can take a long time. For some enterprising commuters, especially those in the CBD area, they resorted to getting the bus’ cellphone numbers which they call to check the location of the bus and to gauge their waiting time. Earlier, during the rush hour travel from C5 Kalayaan to Taft-LRT, the bus conductor answered one call after another — providing commuters with valuable information on the location of the buses.

So what’s the advantage of riding the Green Frog Hybrid Bus:

1. Value for Money – Green Frog has a flat rate, PHP20 for outright cash and PHP15 when you use the Green Frog debit card. The Debit Card can be bought for PHP200 with 10 usable credits (amounting to PHP150) and PHP50 deposit for buying the card. You pay just like how you pay in other countries, by tapping the card against the machine attached near the driver’s seat.

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Earlier, I noticed that all the passengers preferred to pay outright in cash than purchase the card. When the card was offered to me by the lady conductor, I told her I will buy when there are already additional units of the Hybrid Bus plying the streets. This way, they’ll have a more definite waiting time for bus arrival and I can maximize usage of the card.

2. Cleanliness – unlike other Manila buses that smelled of sweat, saliva and crude oil, the Hybrid Bus smelled fresh and clean. The driver and the lady conductor was dressed neatly in their uniforms (the green and orange combo shown in the first photo above). Since it was raining very hard, the lady conductor would often wipe the wet areas of the bus with a foot rug. The aircon was also cold so very conducive to traveling especially when you are stuck in traffic.

3. Safety and comfort – seats inside the Hybrid Bus are limited, but the body is wide enough to accommodate those who will stand in the aisles. Entrance is by the front door while exit is exclusively at the middle doors. Doors are kept closed during travel.

 

Greenbus2

4. Courteous staff – Both the conductor and the driver are courteous and very professional. When a heavily-pregnant lady entered the bus, the conductor politely asked a gentleman if the lady can have this seat. The man graciously agreed. The conductor was also very mindful of the passenger’s safety, while the driver was careful but very efficient as he traveled Manila’s wet roads due to the constant raining.

The Green Bus is a good way to see Makati — and the bus stops conveniently connects you to other parts of the city. For example, alighting the Ayala stop would bring you the central business district, the Ayala Museum and Greenbelt Chapel (with one transfers) while the last LRT-Taft is gateway to the Mall of Asia and Baywalk.

Hopefully, the next buses will be here before Christmas (the conductor says they’re due for delivery by September). This is something that the city and the country definitely needs. In fact, I hope Green Frog will consider an airport route. In times like these when airport taxi drivers get you iffy, a safe and comfortable transport going in and out of the airport would be nice.

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