All posts tagged: Published

(Just a little) Love, Actually

Sometimes, we really should listen to friends. Like when they say, “Bring an umbrella because it always rains in London,” you MUST grab an umbrella even if the sun is bright and shining when you leave the apartment to explore. Because those Londoners are right – it always rains in their corner of the Earth. Another thing that’s always in London are tourists — all 17 million of them spending £11 billion like London wasn’t the sixth most expensive city in the world. Last year, London ranked the second most visited city, after Hong Kong.     At Heathrow alone, prepare to queue an hour or two for immigration clearance. It’s nothing like that famous opening scene in “Love Actually,” when Hugh Grant says in his perfect Love-me-I’m-British accent: “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that… If you look for it, I’ve got …

When the Fog Clears in Kalinga

The journey to Tulgao began the night before, with a decision to not go to Tulgao, a small community tucked in the highlands of Kalinga in northern Philippines that should have been famous for its rice terraces but isn’t—at least not yet. The weather forecast for the following morning was thunderstorms, so a detour was necessary. Thankfully, there were more than enough photo shoot-worthy rice terraces in the Cordilleras. I pondered this as I found myself precariously balanced on the edge of muddy terraces the next day, trying, successfully, not to slip—three of the men I was with had already kissed the mud—but failing, unapologetically, to keep my temper in check. “We should’ve stuck to our earlier agreement. This is not a wise call. What if somebody gets hurt? We’re in the middle of nowhere. And this project does not even come with insurance!” I rattled on, all the time keeping my eyes on the trail. I was NOT going to fall. By the time we crossed a narrow gap that has been transformed into …

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 …

Bohol: Back on the Travel Map

The small island province of Bohol in Central Visayas is exactly how James Bond likes his martini—shaken, not stirred. Barely a year after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the province, killing more than 200 people and rendering thousands homeless, Bohol is taking back its spot on the tourist map. Its attractions—beaches, churches, beautiful people—may have suffered significant damages in the shaking but they have maintained their character. While recovery efforts are still underway and may take years to complete, fresh waves of travelers are already abandoning their fear of another disaster and heading back to one of the Philippines’ premier destinations. “I’ve been to places that were devastated like Bali and Phuket. Tourism is not only the fastest-growing industry, it is also the most resilient,” Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto told visiting media during the Sandugo Festival in July. The USAID, through its project COMPETE, is helping Bohol position itself in the tourism market to aid in its rebuilding and development. Because of its heritage sites and island setting, Bohol is a natural destination for eco-cultural …

Sleeping Beauty

For years, the sleepy town of Anda in Bohol, 100 km from the capital city of Tagbilaran, has been dubbed as “the NEXT BIG THING.” A well-known, well-travelled Filipino weatherman and scion of a political clan in Manila even declared Anda as one of the two most surprising gems he found in the Philippines—a country that does not lack for island jewels—and expressed his intention to someday retire there. Anda has all the ingredients for a premier travel destination: long stretches of fine, white-sand beaches, clear, turquoise waters, year-round diving weather, friendly locals, and comfortable, family-run resorts. Add to that a sprinkling of caves that tell a rich history and voila, you have a tourist favorite. So why isn’t it Boracay by now? My quest for an answer to that question was the only thing that roused me from the king-size bed in our tastefully designed 60-square-meter suite at the new wing of Amorita Resort—my new favorite place in Panglao—where life consisted of perfect little moments and beautiful mornings with hot chocolate. It was SO tempting to …

GKonomics: The Business of Restoring Dignity

With their lunch waiting on the table, a family in Baseco, Tondo, sat still and prayed: “Panginoon, ang bait-bait Niyo sa amin. Kulang ang aming mga kamay para tanggapin ang lahat ng biyaya na ibinigay Niyo sa amin (Lord, you are so good to us. Our hands are not enough to receive all the blessings from you).” Pinky Velez Poe, the special guest at that lunch, did her best to hold back tears. “You look around, and you think, ‘what biyaya (blessing)?’ There’s nothing by our normal standards—it’s a 20-square-meter house for eight people and they say ‘kulang ang mga kamay para sa biyaya,’” she said. “Where I come from, in the village where I live, families are fighting over money when there’s so much more where that money came from… It makes you realize that peace and joy really cannot be bought.” That day, Pinky ate from a basin (the family had no extra plates), and had feeding supplement for main course and burnt rice crust or tutong with evaporated milk for dessert. And she …

Shanghai-Spotting

What a difference zero makes Two little hours Brought the sun and the… No, there were no flowers, just buildings—an endless row of buildings that occupy block upon block of this industrial and eerily quiet part of Shanghai. It was our first day in what is supposedly a swanky, cosmopolitan world city, but I have yet to find traces of that—or of anything modern, or even English-speaking—at the moment. And it has been over an hour. My friend and I were walking along Guiqiao Road in Pudong in search of Shanghai United Cell Biotechnology Co. Ltd., where we were supposed to drop off a package before we toured the city. We passed the offices of international brands like Coca-Cola, Ricoh, Kodak (apparently, the legendary-but-now-bankrupt company still has its graphic communications group, with its Asia Pacific headquarters in Shanghai). But there was no biotechnology office in sight. After finally being able to connect to the Shanghai mobile number of my friend’s colleague, we realized what went wrong: the taxi driver had dropped us off at 115 Guiquiao …