All posts filed under: Tips and Lists

Made in the Philippines

Once in a while, we find surprising things in our own backyards. Digging up a bit around my own — the Philippines — I stumbled upon some superb finds that made me want to dig into my own wallet and hand over money to these people, who not only make great products but do good things for other people. Check them out. 1) The Tannery Manila (www.thetannerymanila.com) Good, authentic leather is hard to find. So when you stumble on something like The Tannery Manila, you start saving up for a piece. The leather goods store is owned and run by the Hermoso family of Meycauayan, Bulacan, which used to be the center of Philippine leather-making. The Hermosos were among the pioneers of the industry, having started in 1901. In 2014, sisters Mariel and Macy Lazaro, fourth-generation Hermosos, launched The Tannery Manila, their own brand of beautifully designed, handcrafted leather products. Their bags are the bestsellers, easily as good-looking as the big-brand leather purses Hollywood celebrities carry around. The Tannery Manila exports their products to Germany and …

Spooky Sojourns

Are those white-sand beaches looking all the same to you? Do city tours and museums make you want to stay in bed the whole day instead? Then it’s time to tweak your travel itinerary. Now you know what they say: change is scary. In this case, it is going to be, quite literally, SCARY. We’ve compiled five of the spookiest places in the United States that are worth a visit. Some are pretty, some are downright creepy but all have interesting stories behind the horror. Maybe they can give you a little perspective. So just open your eyes—who knows what you’ll see? Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, West Virginia Those who run this asylum, once called the Weston State Hospital, say it is a “dream destination” for ghosthunters. A sanctuary for the mentally ill from 1864 to 1994, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia housed thousands of patients until it suffered from overcrowding and poor sanitation. Many died here. More suffered. Some say the uncontrollable residents were locked in cages. Today, their screams still echo in …

14 Creative V-Day Dates

Not all couples celebrate Valentine’s Day. Some feel too old and too tired. Some think fine dining is too expensive, too fussy and too conventional–and they’re damn right. So why don’t you Valentine believers dump the boring dinners and try these things for a change? You have two weeks to prepare. Be kids again. Think of the things you loved to do when you were children, and do them. It can be as simple as going to the park, flying a kite, spending hours on a swing, visiting a museum/planetarium, or playing at an arcade. Learn to cook/bake your favorite dish. First, do the grocery, then clear the kitchen and drive everyone away. This is your date place. Now get to work. Play some music if it gets you in the mood to slice and dice. If you feel like flirting through a flour fight, go right ahead. Just remember you will eat what you cook. Take a walk or ride a bike. This is good for the heart, literally. Follow bike trails that will …

Trains, Planes and Mobiles: Notes on Cellphone Photography

Just before I left the travel magazine where I worked in 2011, I tagged along on an ABS-CBN interview with renowned fashion photographer Jun de Leon, a very passionate–and very elusive–artist. I’m not sure if this ever saw print, but in this age of smartphones that can do practically anything, I think his thoughts are too precious not to share, so…   Cellphone Photography, according to Jun de Leon  He has one rule in photography—there are no rules. And this is why Enrique “Jun” De Leon can move from being a photojournalist to a fashion photographer and now, an advocate of cellphone photography. His book ‘Tracing the Wind’ is the world’s first coffeetable book using purely cellphone photographs. Today he runs a Facebook page dedicated to mobile-age photography with more than 30,000 members from 40 countries. In a rare interview, he sits down and talks about the evolution of his passion. Why take on cellphone photography? According to research, the no. 2 aspiration of Filipinos is to own a digital camera. That’s why I’m changing …

10 for the Road

I will always remember January 1, 2009. That was the New Year’s day I found myself on Highway 1 in southern California, with my cousin Ice and my San Francisco housemate Athong. Being the only one who had zero driving skills, I had the privilege of enjoying the scenic view of the Pacific and quaint houses you only saw on storybooks. The picture remains perfect in my mind.  In this age of promo fares, road trips may soon become a lost form of travel. But for those who still prefer the romance of feeling the breeze on their face and holding a map in their hands, I have these 10 helpful tips for land travel. (NOTE: The photos were actually part of our engagement shoot three years and 20 lbs. ago, when we decided, on a spur of the moment, to go with a Road Trip Gone Wrong storyline)   Have a plan. It’s great to be spontaneous and just go where the fuel takes you. But if you don’t have unlimited resources and time, the one …

Boracay 101: Must-Do on the World’s Best Island

For most visitors to Boracay, lounging on the beach with a good book or a cold shake, feet tickled by the powdery fine sand, is enough activity for a week. But for first-timers to Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Island in 2012, it’s worth taking this checklist with you for the Boracay basics. Sunset sail  In summer, paraw rentals go for P1,000++ but you can haggle and bring this down to P600 if you sail any time before 4 p.m. It’s the sunset that jacks up the price. In low season, you can go sailing at sunset for P500. Either way, the breeze on your face is worth it. Sunrise walk If you can get past your hangover from the previous night, it’s ideal to take a walk, barefoot of course, around 6 a.m. The usually crowded White Beach is deserted and you can climb Willy’s Rock for one of the best spots from which to take snapshots of the beach. Massage on the beach  This is a classic beach (in)activity that you can enjoy …

Why Walk with Carlos Celdran

If you’re a foreigner or balikbayan, then I get why you would join Carlos Celdran’s “If These Walls Could Talk” tour. TIME has mentioned a few good reasons, so did the Asian Wall Street Journal. Plus you’re probably a little sentimental about your roots. But if like me, you live and breathe the smog of Manila more often than you’d like, you might be more skeptical about forking over Php1,100 for a tour of Intramuros, that “Walled City” that could not even hold off vandals, vendors, jeepney barkers, and a growing number of informal settlers. The not-so-friendly fee stings a little more when, again, like me, you actually already did a solo walking tour of Intramuros not too long ago (and in fact, even wrote about it). So why would you, a Pinoy familiar familiar with Manila, spend Php1,100 and three hours with Carlos Celdran? Well, after the tour, I got 10 very good reasons: You think Manila has more filth than history. Surprisingly, that is not true. You tell people that Rizal Park is the original Kilometer Zero. Again, …