Travelers Journal :: ßry™

it's all about me and my whereabouts. thanks for visiting.

I spent my last weekend in Manila and I had the chance to stroll at the SM Mall of Asia (MoA). Thanks to my best friends Tyrone and Grace (they are my friends since Kinder, since 1987 to be exact) for agreeing to meet with me at MoA. I had a truly wonderful Sunday at MoA.

To my foreign visitors and fellow bloggers, here are bits of information about MoA so that in case you will have the chance to visit Manila, you already have one interesting place in your list.

The SM Mall of Asia is the Philippine's largest shopping complex. According to Forbes Magazine, it is the 3rd largest shopping mall in the world in terms of Gross Leasable Area, after the South Dongguan Mall (China) and Golden Resources Mall (China). It has been operating for two years now after its official opening on May 21, 2006. Mall of Asia will never fail a visiting tourist as it offers a unique shopping mall ambiance. It cannot be gainsaid that one of its best attractions is the Esplanade, where you can have a relaxing view of the Manila Bay and a nostalgic feel of the romantic sunset by the bay. Unlike any other malls in the world, MoA is situated by the bay and is separated from the usual busy city district. It is located at the famous Roxas Boulevard in Manila, Philippines and is built on 19.5 hectares of reclaimed land area. MoA's architecture is equally interesting as it drifted away from the traditional box-type designed shopping malls. There are portions of MoA where you can feel the natural lighting and air specifically at the restaurant strips, IT centre, and the Esplanade. It may not be easy for slow walkers to roam around as it houses over 600 shops and 150 restaurants. Talk about shopping, you can find both local and international items here. If you like high-end and/or branded goods, you can also find them here. Now if you find yourself hungry after more than an hour of strolling, pick a restaurant of your choice offering Filipino dishes and fusion cuisines. Parking is never an issue at MoA, over 5,000 parking slots are situated outside and inside the shopping complex. Public taxis, jeepneys and vans are also readily available. Thus, transportation is not a big problem for commuters.

Aside from the relaxing view of the Manila Bay and the romantic sunset, MoA has got a lot of other attractions to offer! First in the list is the SM Science Discovery Center. This 313 million pesos (or $7 million) Science Center is the first of its kind in the world. It has a digital planetarium which showcases a wide range of science instructional movies. The planetarium is the ultimate attraction at the SM Science Discovery Centre as it can easily convince its visitor for its being ultra high-tech and interactive. It also houses several technology and science-themed exhibits such as Life Clock, ImagePort, SMART Media City (you can play computer games here), Transportation Nation, Spaceship Earth and Robot Inc (where I've seen Astroboy, my favorite cartoon hero when I was 4).

Among the science themed exhibits, I particularly enjoyed the following:

1. Virtual Reef - a digital oceanarium. Its main attraction is Mr. T, a talking cartoon titan fish. I'm sure the voice over talent could see the visitors via camera as Mr. T can naturally talk to each visitor and respond to every question they might like to ask. You bet, I had fun with this fish as my friend cracked a series of jokes with Mr T.

2. City Science - it provides an audio-visual learning of various
skyscrapers all over the world and the whereabouts in major cities such as New York, Paris, London, and more.

If you happened to be a nature lover and would rather take advantage of the Manila Bay and the Sunset, the Ferry Service will be a nice treat for you! The cost per ride per person is approximately $2-3 only. During the Christmas Season, fireworks displays are also showcased by the bay. In fact, MoA has been chosen several times as the venue for World Pyro Olympics.

And if you are movie fan, there are several Digital movie houses at MoA one of which is the IMAX Theater which is the first of its kind in the Philippines and is one of the world's biggest IMAX screens in 3D.

Now if you feel like being sporty, try the Mall of Asia's Ice World, the Philippines first Olympic-sized ice skating rink of 61 by 30 meters. It is described as the biggest of its kind in Southeast Asia.

The SM Prime Holdings has recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary at MoA's SMX Convention Center. SMX is a 3-storey building of 46,647-square meter size and is described as the Philippines' largest privately run exhibition and convention center. It can accommodate up to 6,000 people. Soon to rise in MoA complex is a luxury hotel in partnership with the Radisson Chain of Hotels.

The SM history reveals a very rich legacy and a triumphant venture since the first SM branch. Whatever information is documented and made available to the public will never match the real-life experience and memories that only Mr Henry Sy himself can share.

(PHOTO: Me and Mr Henry Sy, owner of the SM Prime Holdings. Mr. Sy is known as Asia's mall magnate who remained among the world’s super-rich, according to Forbes magazine’s annual billionaires list. He placed 843rd with a net worth of $1.4 billion)

Wonderin’ how the football craze heats up in and outside the football stadiums of Austria and Switzerland? It’s definitely worth experiencing for! Unfortunately, just like you maybe – I don’t have the chance to do so! (now that's quite frustrating! and if you happened to travel just to see the matches -- POWER TO YOU!)

As widely reported, EURO 2008 football matches continue to heat up in Switzerland – taking place in Geneva, Bâle, Berne and Zurich. In Austria, matches have been held in Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck and Klagenfut. With the finals in Vienna taking place on Sunday, 29 June, I’m sure football fanatics started to have sleepless nights.

Talk about football craze and its relation to the welfare of the society; let me share you some pieces of information. Football stars have committed themselves to helping the United Nations in its various work and development goals. For example, Ronaldinho and Kaká are Ambassadors Against Hunger for WFP, David Beckham is a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, Michael Ballack is a Special Representative for UNAIDS, Roberto Baggio is an Ambassador for FAO, and Ronaldo, Zinédine Zidane and Didier Drogba are Goodwill Ambassadors for UNDP. Also, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has been running a three-week anti-discrimination programme, “Unite Against Racism”, which aims to demonstrate equality in sport. It’s a "zero tolerance" for UEFA towards any form of racism, discrimination or violence in football.

Now let me share you some photographs courtesy of my organization's global Intranet site. I enjoyed looking at these pictures and I hope you’d also do. Needless to say, I direly wanted to be right there and feel the actual vibes! Grrr… (my eldest brother would surely enjoy these pictures as he was a former football player at the national level!)

Now you might find the title of this post as something odd. I got the same reaction when my friends in Bangkok thought of dining in at Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant which I never thought to exist in Bangkok metropolis. Since I find this place quite interesting not only for its name but also for its theme, I decided to write about it for my blog.

Jay and Raquel, swaggering. Who let these creatures out?!

According to its history posted at the entrance lobby, Cabbages and Condoms (C&C) Restaurant was established by the Population and Community Development Association (PDA) of Thailand to increase awareness on HIV/AIDS and to promote better understanding of family planning. I should agree to their claim that the restaurant has attracted international attention. Almost 90% of the guests were foreigners (that includes us obviously). The ambiance is good. At the main lobby, diners will be welcomed with family planning and HIV/AIDS-themed displays. Thai mannequins (dressmaker's dummy) wearing clothes made up of real condoms and oral contraceptives are the first attractions. There is also a Santa Claus-themed mannequin. They serve authentic Thai dishes and delicacies at a not-so-expensive price. Diners may choose between outdoor and air-conditioned areas to dine in. The food is also good. They also sell Thai handicrafts and C&C souvenirs. All proceeds from the restaurant are used to fund the social development programs of PDA. So that's a real dining experience for a cause!

Antti and Twinkle, soon to wed couple this July.

Now let me close this post with the following humorous and witty quotable quotes I read while at C&C:

  • "Our food is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy"
  • "Sorry we have no mints, take a condom instead"

  • "Stop Global Warming, use condoms"

Cabbages and Condoms (C&C) Restaurant is located at Sukhumvit Soi 12, Bangkok. (200 m from the main sukhumvit road)

Eversince I started blogging, I decided that the concept for this blog would be a compilation of my past and recent actual travel experiences. Thrilled I was for the recent increase in traffic for my blog, I decided to also feature someone else's travel experiences which I will be doing soon after collecting pictures and information from my friends and fellow bloggers.

Last weekend, I got a mail from a fellow blogger (an inspirational blogger to be precise) from the U.S. asking me "what's in a life of travel writer?". I never thought that I projected myself in this blog as a travel writer. For the benefit of those who are interested to know (if there are many), this blog is my latest prized hobby. I may have travelled a lot but I am not a travel writer. But if given the chance, why not?! I think it's a good and fun profession. Right now, I'm happy with my job and on top of blogging and working hard, I still go to school through distance education. Even my former boss thought that I doubled as a travel writer! hahahaha! But thanks though, it's a compliment I guess. Atleast my posts impress a bit on my readers.

Just so to keep this post as relevant to travelling as possible. I thought of seriously answering the question "what's in a life of a travel writer?" And based on my own situation at the moment, I thought of using the concept of distance education in a life of a travel writer. The main idea is that IF I were a real travel writer by profession, I would choose to subscribe to distance education at the same time. After all it pays a lot to earn another degree, Masters or a diploma while travelling and writing - a highly dignified traveller I will be. hahaha. Now what's the relationship between distance education and the life of a travel writer? It's the portability and flexibility of learning. Let me share with you my reply to the discussion forum for my Master's elective course on Foundations of Distance Education. WARNING: It's a bit long but I hope you'll find it useful and informative.


Prior to your enrollment in this program... what was your definition of distance education? Make a research on the definitions of distance education. List them down. Be sure to cite your resources properly. Compare your definition and those which you were able to read in the various references you listed. What differentiates distance education from conventional classroom-based instruction? What is common to distance education and conventional classroom-based instruction? What differentiates distance education from private self-study? What is common to distance education and self-study? Post your reply in this forum.


Prior to my enrollment to this course, I have been made aware of the concept of distance education (DE) – what is it about and how is it carried out. Thanks to my work places at [....] which has the Distance Learning Centre and the [....] which emphasizes strongly on staff development and learning. In addition, the [....] has projects both completed and in-progress focusing on the importance of education and learning that includes the concept of distance education.

One of the positive impacts of rapid technology development in the society is the emergence of a “space” not just to share information but also to achieve fundamental results like what a traditional classroom-based learning environment could offer. Distance education is an opportunity to balance the needs of people in their quest for continuous learning while maintaining their personal and professional commitments. It is a concept where learning does not need to take place inside a classroom but through the use of various multimedia technologies.

My above definition of DE is fortunately supported by definitions given by various resources as follows:

  • Wikipedia defines distance education as “ a field of education that focuses on the pedagogy and andragogy , technology, and instructional systems design that aim to deliver education to students who are not physically "on site". Rather than attending courses in person, teachers and students may communicate at times of their own choosing by exchanging printed or electronic media, or through technology that allows them to communicate in real time. Distance education courses that require a physical on-site presence for any reason including the taking of examinations is considered to be a hybrid or blended course or program”;

  • The Philippine Daily Inquirer in its news article dated November 11, 2007, reports distance education as “ Distance education is unlike the usual classroom setup where students and teachers are supposed to be present regularly for education to take place. Distance education still follows a certain curriculum. While students are usually left to study at their own pace, learning materials have deadlines.”;

  • The Sustainable Development Department of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) summarizes the concept of distance education as “intentional processes of teaching and learning in which physical space separates instructors and learners. Learners and instructors communicate through various media, and an educational organisation exists to design, facilitate and evaluate the educational process.”

In addition to the above, distance education has been widely defined on World Wide Web as:

  • The formal process of distance learning. This term has traditionally implied the higher education level.

  • means an educational process in which persons removed in space or time from the learners conduct a significant proportion of the teaching through one medium or a combination of media.

  • a form of learning in which the instructor and student are in different locations and communicate through traditional and non-traditional means.

  • A planned teaching/learning experience that uses a wide spectrum of technologies to reach learners at a distance and is designed to encourage learner interaction and certification of learning.

  • Education program whereby students may complete all or part of an educational program in a geographical location apart from the institution hosting the program; the final award given is equivalent in standard and content to an award program completed on campus.

  • The process by which students and teachers can communicate through information technology. It allows courses to take place without the necessity for the students and teachers to be physically in same location.

The major difference of distance education from conventional classroom-based instruction is the fact that learning does not have to take place inside a classroom. Geographically speaking, the learner and the instructor communicate from two distant points taking away the concept of a daily/regular face-to-face interaction. While distance education uses a self-paced approach, like conventional classroom-based instruction, distance education uses an established curriculum which will be carried out during the entire course.

Finally, in distance education, an instructor or facilitator portrays a key role in ensuring that the established curriculum and set of modules are utilized effectively and in a timely fashion. The instructor uses a defined institutional standard in evaluating the participation of a DE student all throughout the course through web discussions, examinations and special projects. Unlike in special study which is mainly carried out by fulfilling the requirements as set out in a study guide, the instructor and evaluation elements of distance education are not present.

IMAGES from Microsoft Clipart

It has been more than three months since I started this blog and I must say that I do enjoy it a lot. My returning visitors would notice that I even changed the layout of my blog. Writing articles as well as ensuring a nice layout is quite an "outlet" for me. But what's best about blogging is reading comments both published and unpublished from people from different parts of the world!

During the first month of this blog, here's how the traffic went which was not bad at all!

Now you might be wondering what are these balloon-like icons in the world map shown above. These are indicators of the countries of my blog visitors. Each country has 15 ISPs registered which had viewed my blog. Thanks to StatCounter as I was able to keep track of the traffic for my blog.

As of writing, my visitor map has become more populated showing visitors from the USA, Europe, Asia and even in Africa. Isn't that great?! How I wish StatCounter could combine the results of the first visitor map with the results of the following map:

Thanks to all who visited my blog particularly those who sent me messages. Thanks also to those who subscribed! I will definitely try to write more articles particularly those places you have suggested me to visit. To those in the UK (I think I got 3 of them who sent me a message) -- Yes, I will try to write a suggested itinerary which will serve as your guide in your planned visit to Bangkok and to Manila. I'd be more grateful to do that.

With these two visitor maps, it feels like I've been to all the cities where my blog visitors came from. (lolz!) 'Til my next post. Ciao!

I spent my last weekend in Manila to meet some old good friends during my high school years and to attend my nephew's first birthday. For the first time, I availed of the evening flights recently offered by Philippine Airlines (PAL) from Bangkok to Manila and vice versa. It really pays to be part of PAL's frequent flyer program. I get good service which includes priority booking, priority check-in and luggage handling and best of all I get upgrades and free tickets quite often which I experienced for the nth time during my flight last Friday night. And for this reason, I thought to write a few words about PAL which is my way of saying "thank you". (Photo shows a PAL A330-300 aircraft at Suvanaburmi Airport, Bangkok)

Perhaps 90 per cent of my travels within the Philippines, Asia and the US, I flew Philippine Airlines. I personally feel happy about flying my very own flag carrier which takes pride of being the first airline in Asia. For 67 years now, PAL has consistently delivered its warm Filipino hospitality to its customers. Despite many challenges, it has strived in maintaining its quest to become a world-class Filipino airline.

I wish to congratulate Philippine Airlines as it embarks on a $79-M aircraft upgrade due to be completed by the first quarter of 2009.

Trivia on Philippine Airlines, Asia's first airline:

PAL was launched on March 15, 1941 with a small twin-engine Beech Model 18 flying 212 kms. from Manila to Baguio City, Philippines with a full load of five passengers. To me, I think the best part of flying PAL is the fact that it has its own airport in Manila. While the security is quite rigid at the airport, I think I like the convenience of not having to walk a lot just to get in to the immigration counters and boarding gates. I'm sure people coming from a long flight would agree on this observation.

Philippine Airlines offers budget friendly tour packages (with hotel accommodation and airport transfers included) to different places in the Philippines, Asia and the US. For more information, visit PAL's website at

The following video is a 30-sec TV commercial of Philippine Airlines during 1980's. I was thrilled to have seen it again after almost 20 years. Thanks to YouTube!

The beauty of the Philippines is shining through....
Philippine Airlines

Talk about beaches and other exotic tourist destinations, the Philippines gives you more than 7,000 options to choose from. Topping the list is the breath-taking four kilometer natural exquisiteness of Boracay.

Known as one of the Philippines premiere tourist attractions, Boracay (or Bora for young Filipinos) has been chosen several times as the world’s best tropical beach by The British TV Quick, the Australian newspaper the Sun Herald, the BMW Tropical Beach Handbook, and Harper's. In 2007, Yahoo travel selected Boracay as the best beach in the world, taking the first spot of the chosen
10 most popular beaches.

Boracay is famous for its white talcum powder-like beach front which oddly never gets too hot even if the sun blazingly envelopes the entire island paradise. (I personally had fun playing with the sand!) From the palm fringed shoreline, any visitor would surely be astonished by a relaxing view of its crystal clear blue- to turquoise-colored water. It is truly a startling experience to see how the monochromatic waters of Boracay fade from deep blue to clear white as you approach the beach front from an island hopping adventure.

Just before the sunset, you will enjoy the view of vinta and sail of different colors. These boats may be rented for a quick sunset island hopping or take photos of them at no charge. Banana boat riding is also available for an unforgettable group fun. If you want a fast paced adventure, perhaps jet skiing on Boracay waters would invigorate your sensations!

Boracay white beach is divided into three boat stations of which stations 2 and 3 are the most popular for backpackers and youngsters. In the evening, boat station 2 is filled with music and endless group chats. It is the most tourist friendly station as it houses a strip of not-so-expensive restaurants and mini supermarkets. Boat station 1 is where most of the high-end hotels are located at. It is the most tranquil boat station in Boracay.

Boracay gateways

All year round, the Philippine Airlines (PAL) offers tour packages from Manila to Boracay with flight and hotel accommodation included for as low as US$190. If you fly PAL, you will have to take a two-hour land travel from Kalibo Airport to the ports of Caticlan either by jeepney or bus. A ferry service is available which will bring you to Boracay Islands in 15 minutes. Expect Boracay waters to welcome you with a splash during the ferry ride so be prepared to get wet!

Other local airlines such as Air Philippines, Cebu Pacific and Asian Spirit fly directly from Manila to Caticlan Airport which saves you from the two-hour land travel from Kalibo. As of writing, Philippine Airlines has recently launched their jet flights straight to Caticlan which are less expensive than their flights to Kalibo.

Island activities

Boracay souvenirs ranging from native hats, hand-painted t-shirts, hand-woven neclaces and bracelets are just a few of the many items you could easily buy from any parts of the Island. The “IN” thing among young tourists is the henna and permanent tattooing. It is most advisable to take a half-day island hopping which will bring you to the Crocodile Island, Puka Beach (the white sand here is absolutely astounding!), crystal cave, and snorkeling areas among others. Each boat for an island hopping may be rented for as low as US$35.00. Don’t worry about buying dollars or Philippine peso, ATM machines are available in station 2.

Experience Boracay... experience a place
unlike anywhere you've ever been!

VIDEO CREDITS (from YouTube):
Video 1: Islands - Produced by the Department of Tourism Philippines
Video 2: One Team One Summer, ABS-CBN Summer Station ID Boracay Special - Directed by Tots Sanchez-Mariscal