Manila!, Reviews

Review: Z Hostel Makati is perfect for budget travelers with preference for comfort 

Disclosure: KamikazeeGirl was invited  by budget hostel Z Hostel Makati for an overnight stay during the onset of the holidays. This was my observation and full review. 

 
If you are a budget traveler like me who is always on the look out for cheap digs without sacrificing comfort, cleanliness or style, consider staying at the Z Hostel located in Don Pedro, Poblacion, Makati City. 


Check In 

Check in process is very straight forward, quick and easy. You can easily have reservations through the Z Hostel website or the many third party booking sites online. Upon check in, you will be given your key card, your towel and a bracelet with the RFID chip which you can use to purchase food and drinks within the hotel premises. 

   
    
 

I have stayed in a lot of hostels in HongKong, Singapore, Seoul, Busan and Tokyo, and I must say that it is only at Z Hostel Manila where I encountered the use of the RFID in purchasing beverages and meals within the hotel premises. 

The RFID at Z can be loaded and reloaded at the lobby and at the rooftop bar where guests usually unwind. 

Rooms and hotel premises 

Rooms at Z is no frills, basic, clean and secure. The ultimate must-haves when looking for a place to stay in. 

As for me, I have three non-negotiables: a locking door, a flushing rest room and a bug-free bed. Obviously, Z Hostel passed all these. 

A bed in any of the dorm rooms comes with its own night light, sufficient electrical outlets for charging of your devices, a pillow and a simple bed sheet. For valuables, each room also comes with lockers while guests are advised to bring their own lock and keys. 

One thing that Z Hostel can improve on is the availability of basic toiletries within the room. In Tokyo and Taipei, resort owners usually include a pair of dispensers in the common rest room: one for the shampoo/conditioner and one for the body wash. 

   


  

Rates begin at PHP899 for a bed on an All-Female Dorm while private rooms begin at PHP2,430 for a night’s stay. Z Hostel has mixed dorm rooms and female dorm rooms which can house 4,6 or 8 persons.

  

   
    

Dining In 

Z ZHostel  has a solid F&B line up, starting from their ground floor cafe where breakfast and most of the meals is commonly served.
   

For dinner,  I had the Beef Tapa which was served with a warm cup of fried rice and my favorite sunny side egg. 

For breakfast, I was directed to the  generous spread of the breakfast bar featuring congee, hard boiled egg slices, bread slices, two types of jams, eggs (cooked according to your preference), fruits, cereals and oatmeals plus juice, coffee or tea. 

  
You pay for your meals using the RFID on your wrist. Paying is very easy: the server will rally your meals on the hand held tablet with RFID capability; after the total amount to be paid is displayed, will you tap the RFID chip against the tablet where the cost of the  meal is immediately deducted and your remaining balance is displayed. 

   
 

As mentioned, you can also use the RFID when you pay for your drinks and bar chow at the rooftop bar. 

Ah – The Rooftop Bar which is already a legend in itself among Z Hostel fans. The Rooftop Bar, with its  laid back atmosphere and cheap drinks and chow is famous not only among guests but also among Makati’s gimmick crowd. 
   

Fellow travel junkies (L to R): KamikazeeGirl, Cao of Z Hostel, fellow bloggers Cindy and Rona and new friend and fellow back packer Rachelle of Australia


   
  

Z Hostel is the kind of place where travelers are encouraged to have fun and just relax, it encourages interaction and promotes nothing but cool vibes among its guests. Service is fast and friendly and each hotel staff seemed geared to provide customers with a nice and memorable stay. 

  
Find Z Hostel at 5660 Don Pedro Street, Makati City. They are also in Facebook: Z Hostel Philippines 

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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, 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.

IMG_0470

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).

IMG_0467

“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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News from Home

From the bottom of my Pinoy heart, to ALL OF YOU: Maraming Salamat Po! (Thank you!)

(Reposted from the KamikazeeGirl site)

STAND UP, Pinoy!

STAND UP, Pinoy!

I am sure you have read and heard reports about the damage brought by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, especially in Tacloban, Leyte (located in Southern Philippines) where the eye of the storm hit.

As you all know, the biggest typhoon in the world has brought massive damage to life and property and a week after Yolanda (Typhoon Haiyan’s name in the Philippines), the death toll has reached 3,631. This is still expected to pick-up, since thousands of individuals are still missing and are feared dead. Aid are starting to trickle to hard-hit areas where many are suffering from hunger, disease, malnutrition and trauma.

haiyan-thank-you

The massive relief efforts being given to the Philippines will not be possible without YOU. Yes, you and your country’s help to my country has been truly heart-warming. And in behalf of the many Filipinos affected by this tragedy, I would like to thank all of you for your prayers and for being part of a great nation that lent its hand to a country in need.

I do not know all of you — but a quick check on my reader map shows that this tiny blog reaches far-flung countries, countries I never expect to reach. So please, allow me to say thank you — for your generosity and prayers.

The Philippines will be able to rise again after this tragedy.

(NOTE: In the interest of transparency, the Philippine government launched Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH) where people can view the total aid received and where they are going. See it at www.gov.ph/faith.

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Travel News

Conde Nast Traveler names The Philippines as one of the “Travel Destinations” to watch in 2013

Oh my! Conde Nast Traveler, one of the premiere travel magazines in the world today, has included good ol’ PH as one of the destinations to watch in 2013.

See here the amazing recommendation for the Philippines:

“For travellers willing to go the extra thousand miles for a deserted beach, the Philippines has around 7,000 of the most heavenly islands in the world. It’s still not the most obvious beach-holiday destination, but it soon will be.

It’s becoming particularly popular among serious divers, who come for the incredible underwater life, unspoilt coral gardens with rainbow-bright fish, green sea turtles and dugongs. In Bicol you can swim with the biggest fish in the world, the whale shark. While fish-fans of a different nature can go deep-sea fishing in one of the deepest trenches in the oceans, not far from the little-known island of Siargao.

The archipelago of Palawan ticks all the boxes: palm-fringed white-powder beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, natural lagoons for wild swimming on Miniloc Island – all of it protected by UNESCO. Its Bacuit Bay is something like Halong Bay in Vietnam, only without all the tourists – for the time being, at least. There are just a handful of resorts, which are tasteful and deliberately low-key. Two of the newest are Ariara Island and El Nido Pangulasian Island, a private-island resort with palm-thatched villas, a spa, its own dive centre, and sea views to melt the heart.

Another super-stylish new opening is Dedon Island, on Siargao; it’s owned and designed by contemporary furniture brand Dedon. And a perennial favourite is Amanpulo, yet another high-design private-island hotel on Pamalican Island. Or sail around them all on Alila’s new boat, the Phinsi.”

The current online issue also includes a guide to discovering the many facets of the Philippines.

That indeed is good news. Considering the hard work being put in by the Department of Tourism (DOT) which seemed to experience a resurgence following the appointment of Secretary Ramon Jimenez. A former ad man, Secretary Jimenez was able to bring interest back to this country of 7,000 islands. Maybe it’s the catchy campaign, “Its More Fun in the Philippines” or the fact that our best beaches are being discovered by the rest of the world just now. Truth is, the emergence of the Philippines as a top travel destination is something that this government should take seriously.

Here are the things that should be our top priority:

1. The Airport
On top of our obvious concerns would be that danged prehistoric building called, “The Ninoy Aquino Internal Airport, Terminal I.” The reputation of this terminal is lower than the Marianas Trench. It’s been called the worst by some of the world’s leading travel sites and yet still, it is still in operation (leaky faucets, unappetizing lounge food, stomach-churning arrivals waiting area and all.)

I really hope the government can do something about this airport, and not just be proud of the fact that “travelers are out of the NAIA in 25 minutes flat.” I don’t know what this tourism executive is smoking, but I can assure him that given the facilities in that airport, I’ll strive to be out of there too in 25 minutes flat, maybe 20 minutes if I am really desperate. If you have nothing to do inside the dimly-lit, aging building, would you want to stay there?

I can understand the hesitation to leave if there’s no available facility to use, but we have the humongous Terminal 3 gathering dust and sorely underutilized. I hope that this year, more international flights will get transferred to T3.

2. Reliable transportation system to get in and out of the airports
The few countries I’ve been to had one thing in common: an efficient transportation system that allows travelers to get in and out of the airport using their transpo of choice. Meaning, they are not stuck with cabs — and can opt to use the MRT (linked directly to the airport, like in HK and SG) or by bus with direct routes to the airport (in Seoul and Busan). Unfortunately, right now, all we can offer are “official” airport cabs that will charge you an arm and a leg just to be able to travel. Let’s not make it hard for the tourists. While we are at it, can we do something about dilapidated cabs that smelled like a forgotten public rest room.

3. Safety!
Every country has its security and safety problem. But, it gets really embarrassing whenever we hear tourists being mugged or taken for a ride by touts. I hope that the government will make tourists feel more secure traveling our country. After all, it’s the memories they make that will either keep them coming back or make them stay away for good.

These are the things that are on top of my mind. I know that they’re basic requirements for every traveler, something that can make or break a trip.

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