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Flight chronicles of the backpacker Tutubi, with travelogues, pictures/photos/videos, travel guides, independent and honest reviews, affordable, recommended resorts and hotels (including inns, guesthouses, pension houses, lodges, hostels, condotels, bed and breakfast and other cheap accommodations), commuting guides, routes (sometimes street maps and GPS coordinates/waypoints) and driving directions to answer "how to get there" questions, information and tips on tourism, budget travel and living in Philippines, Exotic Asia and beyond!

Backpacking, independent travel, and flashpacking are cheaper than the "cheapest package tours" and promotional offers around but you can also use travel information for family vacations, even romantic honeymoon destinations.

More than the usual tourist spots and "places to see," this blog advocates heritage conservation, environmental protection, and history awareness for Filipinos, foreigners, and ex-pats wishing to explore Paradise Philippines and Exotic Asia!
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    Waterproof Camera for Snorkeling, Kayaking, Water Sports and Adventure Travel

    When Tutubi first came to Donsol on Good Friday of 2003 to commune with butanding or whale sharks, it was an unplanned trip that he had no snorkels, vests and, worst of all, an underwater camera. The nearest one he can get that time was a Kodak disposable film camera with 27 shots and was also waterproof, problem with it was picture taken under water was poor, according to various reviews.

    UPDATE February 2014:

    Tutubi now has the Olympus Tough TG-2 since last year and its high aperture 2.0 waterproof and shockproof is probably the best in its class.

    Last Christmas, even if he didn't win any major prize at several raffles as expected, a friend gave him a rather expensive gift, even if it was bought with a big discount, in appreciation for his help during the time when his company was initially wooing conservative clients, something hard for a start up,"dark horse" yet highly capable company. It was Tutubi who opened the floodgates for his company more than a year ago and credits him for his company's long list of clients signing up for his company's services. (Some people still know how to remember the past, called utang na loob which is intrinsic to Filipinos and pinoy culture, an indebtedness that doesn't really require repayment)

    So what did he get? An Olympus Stylus 850 SW Shock + Waterproof Camera. This makes Tutubi a member of Nikon, Canon and Olympus users circle with his Nikon D80 DSLR + Nikkor 18-200 VR lens where most crappy pictures on this blog were taken with, his old trusty Canon Ixus 30 point and shoot camera he bought on Hidalgo, Quiapo and now the Olympus waterproof camera.

    How would Tutubi rate and review the Olympus waterproof camera? In simple terms, the image quality is not that well compared to his trusty Canon Ixus 30, but it can go to places where his Canon and Nikon cameras can't.

    With his new waterproof camera, he can now take photos of whale sharks in Donsol, during snorkeling, kayaking (where he needs a kayak-mount tripod), shoot a video of the rapids of Pagsanjan Falls or have fun with water in Paete's Salibanda.

    The gadget he'll acquire next, the only remaining one on his wishlist, is a GPS unit :P

    Tutubi got a Garmin Nuvi in January 2011 but rarely used now (February 2014) due to apps in iOS and Android though Garmin is still tops

    Related Post:
    Waterproof Camera: Olympus, Pentax, Canon, Nikon and Dicapac


    posted by backpacking philippines @ 9:07 PM, , links to this post

    Chinese New Year Traditions: Tikoy Symbolisms

    On various occasions, Tutubi receives gifts from friends and officemates and the Chinese New Year, based on the lunar calendar, is no exception. He received at least two tikoys from his Chinese friends.

    Why do the Chinese give away the traditional tikoy on Chinese New Year?

    First, it's round to look like money hence means wealth

    Second, it's made from sticky rice for luck to stick to you. It also pulls everything that is dear to you together

    Third, the red-colored packaging is believed to drive away evil

    The best way to prepare the tikoy it is to slice, steam for five minutes, dip in beaten egg yolk and pan fry with little oil.

    Other symbolisms of the Chinese New Year according to Tutubi's Chinese friends:

    Loud drums to drive away spirits

    Birds are messengers of good news so the bigger the bird, the better the news thus you see the Peking duck or other birds on the menu.

    The word lapu-lapu translates to profit that's why eating Lapu-lapu on New Year's day means profit every year

    Shrimps: jumping, moving and they seem to be smiling when closely looked. Shrimps must also be part of the menu for happiness

    Scallops: for one’s house to be filled with money since they are round

    Shell fish of any sort brings good and robust health

    Lotus for sweetness in life

    Happy Chinese New Year!


    posted by backpacking philippines @ 9:00 PM, , links to this post

    Orient The Original Buko Pie of Los Baños, Laguna

    For as long as Tutubi can remember, there's only one buko pie he craves for. He doesn't have a sweet tooth but the thought of buko pie from Los Baños, about an hour away from his hometown makes his mouth water.

    the bakeshop located on the national highway always has vehicles parked near the place with people lining up to buy the freshly-baked specialty of the town (drive and shoot photo taken through the glass, Canon Ixus 30)

    Orient The Original Buko Pie Bakeshop on the National Highway of Los Baños, Laguna churns out freshly baked buko pie that people passing by the place queue up just to buy them. If he remembers correctly, the brand Orient has only been added to the name to distinguish itself from other "original" buko pies peddled elsewhere, even by ambulant vendors, a "disease" that Tutubi refers to as "The Original Syndrome."
    three boxes of the pie bought my Tutubi's brother. Each pie costs P130.00

    Orient Original buko pie recipe simply uses tender buko slivers (young coconuts) and not the already mature ones. This is different from G&B buko pie of Tuao North, Nueva Vizcaya where milk and cheese is part of the buko pie recipe.

    Tutubi wasn't able to take a buko pie photo whole for as soon as he opened a box, a hand swooped in on the pie to take a slice

    Note: The bakeshop doesn't sell Buko pie via ambulant vendors who board buses selling bootlegged "original" buko pies.

    Question: Which one would you consider the best buko pie in the Philippines? Tutubi personally thinks it's this buko pie closely followed by G&B buko pie which is too sweet for his taste but good. He has sampled other buco pies like Collete's, Rowena's (Tagaytay), El Mare (San Pablo City) even Babe's Buko Pie in Batangas...

    the best buko pie though is a subjective matter and Tutubi won't bother if you have your own preference :P


    Other pasalubong and delicacies in Laguna include espasol, puto binan (of Biñan town, do you know Nila's Puto Biñan?), kesong puti (white cheese of Sta. Cruz made from carabao milk coagulated in vinegar, very similar to India's paneer but using lemon juice), minatamis na calamansi (sweetened Philippine lemon) in Pagsanjan, the obnoxious-smelling-yet-delectably-good bibingkang itlog similar yet less rotten-smelling than Pateros' bibingkang abnoy (mostly in Victoria town but peddled as fas as Paete), monay buns of Bay and minani and bibingkang galapong in Paete and Pakil. There are also vendors giving away free taste of their candies in buses, e.g. macapuno, espasol, ube et al, that you can buy at a cheap price of P10 per pack.

    Other interesting places/tourist spots and attractions in Los Banos:

    University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) with it picturesque campus, Homma-Yamashita Shrine (the execution site of Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita and Gen. Masaharu Homma at the end of World War II), Dampalit Falls, Paciano Rizal Shrine, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and its Rice Museum, the original baths built by Spaniards (where the town got its name), and lastly, Mt. Makiling (Tutubi won't call it mystic mountain for almost all mountains in the Philippines are considered mystic by many people) with forest for trekking including mudflats.

    How to get to Los Baños, Laguna:

    If you're specifically going to buy at The Original Buko Pie Bakeshop, you need to board a bus to Sta. Cruz that pass by Calamba and Los Baños. HM Transport Bus on EDSA Cubao (Southbound, near Victory Liner) or GreenStar bus on Taft Avenue (northbound) near corner Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue (walking distance from LRT Buendia station) and request the driver to drop you off there just before you reach Olivares Plaza and the place called College (going to the University of the Philippines Los Banos campus). Those buses don't pass by Alabang ilalim, you need to ride an HM Transit bus, usually non-airconditioned, to get there. If you're somewhere in Calamba hot spring resorts, you need to get to the highway to board Sta. Cruz-bound jeepneys to get there then board HM Transport bus going to Cubao or GreenStar Express bus to LRT/Taft after buying at the bakeshop.

    Commute from Rizal Province: it's better to board a jeepney going to Siniloan, transfer to a Sta. Cruz-bound jeepney at Siniloan public market, then ransfer again to a Calamba-bound jeepney. Alight in front of the bakeshop about a kilometer from Olivares Plaza mall.

    Commute from Quezon Province: board jumbo-jeepneys in Lucena or Lucban going to Sta. Cruz then transfer to a Calamba-bound Jeepney.

    Driving directions to Los Banos (follow this route to Los Banos): from Makati head towards SLEX and take Calamba exit (the last one) then pass over the bridge going to Calamba city proper. There is a diversion road that bypasses the traffic-prone Crossing where you pass by the new Calamba City Hall and RSM Lutong Bahay branch to exit in Halang but still you have to pass by Bucal and Barangay Pansol (where the hot spring resorts are located). If you missed the bypass road where many vehicles turn right, just drive straight then turn right at Calamba Crossing. You are now on the National Highway (that doesn't look like one). Continue driving until you see the sign on your left (and a portion of the highway where there are many cars parked). You won't reach Olivares Plaza, should you see the mall, you've passed the place and must turn back.

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    posted by backpacking philippines @ 10:20 PM, , links to this post

    Barasoain Church, Malolos Congress and the First Philippine Republic

    Right after checking out a subdivision lot in Malolos he's paying for for quite sometime now, Tutubi, before heading back to Manila, turned right under the flyover to Paseo de Congreso that will be his usual sidetrip to a historic place in Malolos, Bulacan.

    When they got to the destination, his mommy recognized the facade of the church they saw as the one featured on the old ten peso bill: Barasoain Church.

    About 2 kilometers from Malolos crossing stands the historic Barasoain church, the site where the Malolos Congress inaugurated on September 15, 1898 with Pedro Paterno as president and drafted the Malolos Constitution (chiefly by Felipe Calderon). The Malolos Constitution was ratified on January 21, 1899. This piece of history is the foundation of the first constitutional republic in Asia.

    facade of the historic Barasoain Church, Malolos, Bulacan

    the historic church featured on the old ten peso bill, the site of the proclamation of Asia's first republic
    a monument remembering the Malolos Congress that drafted and promulgated the Malolos Constitution

    The First Philippine Republic was formally established on January 21, 1899, in Malolos, Bulacan, and ended abruptly when Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo was captured by the Americans, aided by Macabebe scouts, in Palanan, Isabela on March 23, 1901.

    Later events led to the Americans taking over the country and transformed itself from "Land of the Free" to a "land of enslavers," from a Nation to an Empire in order to realize their "manifest destiny" through the use of benevolent assimilation.


    Barasoain Church was also the site of the inauguration of the short-lived presidency of Joseph Estrada who was ousted during the so-called EDSA Dos and ushered in the reign of PGMA.

    Beside Barasoain Church is the Barasoain Ecclesiastical Museum but Tutubi wasn't able to enter since it was a Monday, the usual day when museums in the Philippines are closed.

    In front of the historic edifice is a patio and plaza with a monument of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the Republic of the Philippines.

    There are two markers installed in front of the church: one by the National Historical Institute and another by the University of the Philippines

    How to get to Malolos, Bulacan:

    Commute to Barasoain Church: Board a bus to Bulacan (e.g. Baliwag Transit on EDSA, Cubao) and alight in front of Bulacan Provincial Capitol just after passing the flyover (viaduct) of Malolos crossing. Transfer to a jeepney/multicab with signboard Malolos (or ride a tricycyle) and drop off in front of Barasoain Church (on your right)

    Driving directions to Malolos: From Makati, head towards EDSA then proceed to NLEX and take Tabang Exit (the exit immediately after the Shell gasoline station). The road (Manila North Road) will pass by Guiguinto then Malolos after a straight drive. When you reach the flyover at the so called Malolos Crossing, choose Ilalim to turn left to Paseo de Congreso where Barasoain Church is about 10 minutes from Crossing. Ample parking space available at the patio in front of the historic church.

    Other historical places in Bulacan according to the official website of Bulacan Provincial Government:

    Enriquez Ancestral House, Bulacan
    Meyto Shrine, Calumpit
    St. John the Baptist Church, calumpit
    Barasoain Ecclesiatical Museum, Malolos
    Basilica Minore de Immaculada Concepcion, Malolos
    Bulacan Museum, Malolos
    Casa Real Shrine, Malolos
    Pinagrealan, Norzagaray
    Tecson House, San Miguel
    Marcelo H. del Pilar Shrine, Bulacan
    Biak-na-bato National Park, San Miguel
    Baliuag Museum, Baliuag
    Old Train Statio, Guiguinto
    Kakarong de Sili, Pandi
    Mercado house, Bustos
    Battle of Quingua, Plaridel
    Bagbag Bridge, Calumpit

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    posted by backpacking philippines @ 9:44 PM, , links to this post

    Of Cold Fronts, Cool Weather and Cold Places in the Philippines

    For an extended time this year, the country has been experiencing cold weather that's quite unusual in these tropical islands. PAGASA pointed out that the reason why it's cold here is due to the presence of a cold front passing through the Philippines.

    What actually is a cold front? "A cold front is defined as the transition zone where a cold air mass is replacing a warmer air mass."

    The said cold front is giving Metro Manila and much of Luzon a colder temperature, with Baguio City reporting temperature readings approaching 6 degrees centigrade while villages in Benguet are wary of andap, local term for frost, that's enjoyed by tourists in this tropical country being a rare phenomenon in most parts of the Philippines, but harmful to Benguet's vegetable farms. The tail-end of the cold front is currently bringing rains and floods to southern Philippines particularly in Mindanao.

    Cold Places in the Philippines (year-round Cold Weather) mostly located on the slopes or on top of high mountains:

    Most people in Metro Manila will answer Baguio City as a cold place, and also Tagaytay City but there are many more places with cool, pleasant weather in the country:

    Benguet : besides Baguio City, there's Sitio Cada in Barangay Balili in Mankayan, Barangay Madaymen in Kibungan, Barangays Sinipsip and Natubleng in Buguias, Sitios Englandlad and Bosleng in Barangay Paoay, and Sitio Tuludan in Barangay Cattubo.

    Sagada, Mountain Province

    Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya

    Barangay Mantalongon, Dalaguete, known as the “Summer Capital of Cebu"

    Barangay Gaas, Balamban, Cebu where Mt. Manunggal is located

    Bucari, Leon, Iloilo

    Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental's Little Baguio

    Malaybalay, Bukidnon (Mindanao), a place also full of pine trees

    The coldest place in the Philippine, as as claimed by many, is at the peak of Mt Pulag, the second highest mountain in the Philippines.

    Source? Mostly travel shows on tv :P

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    posted by backpacking philippines @ 9:39 PM, , links to this post

    Adobong Palaka: Les Cuisses de Grenouilles Filipino Style

    With the slopes of the Sierra Madre boondocks, the lake shore of Laguna de Bay and the green ricefields in between as his childhood playground, Tutubi was able to experience so many things many kids these days won't even bother with malls in their minds and computers, cellphones and PSPs in their hands.

    On Laguna de Bay's lake shore, locals call wawa, he learned to swim. He experienced waking up early at dawn to harvest shrimps from fish and shrimp traps called baklad, catch fish using nets and sometimes with his hands for biya (goby fish), pauton (sometimes bangayngay), ayungin, tilapia, tinikan, gurami, dalag (mudfish), hito (catfish) fishes, dive to gather tulya (clams) and paros (freshwater mussel) and duhol (freshwater sea snake) that once thrived in the lake before the janitor fish invaded the once beautiful, now moribund, lake. The lake also once provided lotus seeds, called kalabanga, that's eaten by locals.

    On the slopes of Sierra Madre, he learned to climb trees or harvest fruits e.g. lanzones (langsat), santol (wild mangosteen), aratilis (muntingia), mami and dambo (malay apple) and catch spiders for spider-fighting (spider wrestling) and sometimes trek up to the Tatlong Krus (Three Crosses) on top of the hill fronting his hometown and the waterfall down to the cold water of the creek feeding the river.

    In the ricefields, he used to gather cherry tomatoes, and other vegetables grown alongside rice, run after field mice in muddy fields, gather suso (snails) and kuhol (escargot for the French) and lastly, the subject of this post, catch and eat edible frogs, called palakang kabakab, by following farmers preparing the rice field for planting by mowing it with a carabao or hand tractor called kuliglig or kubota or people using some sort of DIY gizmo for electrofishing. Some frog hunters hunt the edible amphibians at night using flashlights where frog eyes can be easily spotted.

    Chinese Edible Frog, East Asian Bullfrog, or Taiwanese Frog (Hoplobatrachus rugulosus) found in East Asia particularly Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. It's an introduced species in the Philippines and Sabah/Borneo.

    The frogs he caught were decapitated by chopping off the head and maimed by cutting the limbs (at least the webbed part). The frogs are skinned alive using ash on his hands to peel off the slippery (and icky) skin, then eviscerated to remove the entrails. The lean meat was cooked by deep frying, the only cooking style he knew at that time.

    This time, years after he saw and ate icky, exotic creatures he used to catch and eat, Tutubi saw live frogs for sale at the Lung Center Sunday Market that quickly brought back childhood memories of "Tutubi the Hunter" days. He bought half kilo of the leaping amphibians, six pieces in all, that he had decapitated, maimed and skinned by the frog vendor, unlike in those days when he used to do the "barbaric" task himself.

    meet the vendor and butcher, from Cabiao, Nueva Ecija doing the dirty job of preparing the frog

    the head of the frog is cut first

    what's left of the frog: lean meat and bones, a gruesome sight!

    grenouilles Filipino style: adobong palaka, frogs simmering marinade of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and bay leaf

    People of Pampanga, with the evident culinary prowess of Kapampangans, are proud of their betute, recipe of frogs stuffed with meat (a la relleno) and marinated in cane vinegar and soy sauce.

    In France, people also eat frog legs, called "les cuisses de grenouilles" in French, cooked using a simple recipe with the legs dipped in flour before frying eggs, lemon juice, parsley sprigs, bread crumbs, salt, pepper.

    So, how would Tutubi describe the taste of frogs? It actually has the texture and taste of chicken unless your mind wants to reject the delicacy from your mouth thinking it's a frog bone tickling your palate.

    Adobong Palaka, anyone?



    Where to buy edible frogs:

    A kilogram of live frogs, locally called palakang kabakab in Laguna, costs P250.00 (about US$5.50) at the Lung Center Sunday Market. There are cheaper ones sold at stalls on the highway of Laguna, particularly on the stretch of Bay, Calauan and Victoria towns (an area dominated by gardens selling plants, seedlings and flowers).

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    posted by backpacking philippines @ 8:55 PM, , links to this post

    Lung Center Sunday Market: Tiangge in Quezon City

    A favorite haunt of Tutubi on Sunday mornings being just a fifteen-minute drive away or two short jeepney rides from home, the grounds of the Lung Center of the Philippines, with it's shady trees, come alive bustling with activity with food stalls, tiangge and dry goods for sale with regional specialties and products from almost every corner of the Philippines.

    Shopping at the sunday market has become a routine for people near the area to shop for their food supplies for a week to cook at home. Various fish, seafood, meats, organic produce, vegetables, herbs and spices (e.g wheat grass, basil, thyme,) , regional specialties and exotic stuff can be found here at a cost lower than Manila's gigantic malls.

    Many people asked Tutubi (a wannabe history buff) why the sunday market is called Sidcor, well, it's called Sidcor since in the 90's it used to be located at Sidcor Plaza, where the no-longer-extant Sidcor Resort also used to be, at the corner of EDSA and Main Avenue, the present site of Makro Cubao.

    Sidcor Organic Market finds and more:

    Kalamay and sinukmani, both rice-based desserts (kakanin)

    an assortment of kakanin for sale

    For lovers of organic stuff, lettuce packs at 3 for P100. For comparison, similar items at SM malls cost P60/each making these organic greens about 50% cheaper.

    Tamales P5/each (small)
    or the complete tamales meal at P50 but turned out much of the volume you see were just banana leaves

    Live Frogs P250/kilo, people of Paete call them palakang kabakab, cooked by Kapampangans into betute. The French also eat frog legs or what they call "les cuisses de grenouilles."

    eggs of Bayawak (water monitor lizard) P130 each (this is not recommended as the bayawak is an endangered species, therefore protected...there are live bayawak on display at the Protected Animals and Wildlife Rescue Center (PAWB Mini-Zoo) inside the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife just across the Lung Center)

    Live Dalag (Mudfish) P200/kilo. This specimen weighs 1.5 kgs and is about 30 centimeters long

    sinukmani and kalamay (rice cake) P10/slice

    Yacon (great for diabetics): P40/kilo (if you want cheaper at P20/kilo or less at wholesale price, look for them on the highway of Nueva Vizcaya particularly Bambang and the cold, upland town of Kasibu)

    lato/arosep (seaweed): P120/kilogram

    Vigan Empanada: P60/pc, not worth it though, still recommend the authentic ones at Vigan's plaza

    Fresh curacha flown from Zamboanga City

    Curacha, (sea crabs) endemic to the waters of Zamboanga, Basilan and Tawi-tawi at PhP550.00/kilo (about $11/kg), expensive, yes, but it's the only place Tutubi has seen the sinfully delicious crustaceans outside Zamboanga City. It's already a steal in these low cost of living Philippine islands.

    With various food finds and delicacies present, the Lung Center Sunday Market easily answers the question on where to find hard-to-find items, long before the Salcedo Weekend Market and the Legaspi Sunday Market came to be. The latter two were said to be inspired by the original Sidcor Organic Market in Cubao. The three weekend markets, plus Market! Market in Taguig City and Tiendesitas in Pasig City recommended stops for tourists, locals and foreigners, wishing to sample Philippine cuisine and food specialties without actually going to the actual places.

    Lastly, should you happen to get there, note that Lung Center's specialty dish is the exotic BOPIS!


    Lung Center Sunday Market (Sidcor)
    Lung Center Compound, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City
    Open from 6am up to 1pm, Sunday
    Parking Fee of P20 for first 8 hours, P5 every hour thereafter

    Tip: Use the second gate when parking to avoid the long queue of vehicles entering the first gate. More spacious parking at the left side than those on the right side though farther from the flea market and tiangge stalls.

    How to get to Lung Center of the Philippines:

    Commute: From MRT Quezon Avenue station, best to hire a cab or if you feel like really commuting, board a bus or jeepney bound for Fairview/Lagro/Philcoa or UP and drop off in front of the Lung Center of the Philippines. (this is opposite the pedestrian entrance of the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center) also on Quezon Avenue. From Manila, jeepneys and buses with signboard Fairview, Lagro and Philcoa all pass by the place. From LRT Monumento station (good for those coming from Cavite), you need to board buses going to Baclaran or Cubao then alight on Quezon Avenue before transferring to a Fairview-bound jeep or bus.

    Driving Directions to Lung Center:

    1. if you have a car, from Makati or SLEX, take EDSA going to Quezon City, right turn on Quezon Avenue (ilalim) then enter the hospital entrance gate about 300 meters from the corner of Agham road (the first traffic lights after EDSA). You need to pay a minimal parking fee.

    2. From NLEX, it's best to take EDSA then North Avenue, passing by SM North EDSA and Trinoma Mall, right turn on Agham Road (pass by the neo-classical building Office of the Ombudsman, Philippine Science High School (PSHS or pisay) and Manila Seedling Bank) then left turn again on Quezon Avenue to reach the center.

    3. From Manila, it's just a "straight" drive from Quiapo's Quezon Boulevard, Lerma, Espana, pass by Welcome Rotonda, to reach Quezon Avenue where the center is just near Elliptical Road and Quezon Memorial Circle.

    4. From SLEX or Rizal province via C5, drive straight on C5 then Katipunan Avenue to pass by Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) campus, turn left on C.P. Garcia (the University of the Philippines campus), right on Commonwealth avenue to make a U-turn going to Elliptical Road (Quezon Circle) then Quezon Avenue where you need to take a U-turn again to get to the other side.

    For a vicinity and road map of Lung Center, click here. Beside the Lung Center of the Philippines is the National Kidney Institute of the Philippines (NKI).

    Other notable landmarks and interesting places nearby are the Quezon Memorial Circle (Quezon City Circle), Quezon City Hall, Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center, Office of the Ombudsman (yeah, that dysfunctional government agency who can't seem to go after allies of the administration...ranting :P), Philippine Science High School, Bantayog ng mga Bayani, Philcoa (Philippine Coconut Authority), Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, Astronomical and Space Administration or PAGASA Science Garden (with its Planetarium), Veterans Memorial Medical Center, East Avenue Medical Center, University of the Philippines (UP), Philippine Heart Center, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Philippine Childrens Medical Center (PCMC), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Social Security System (SSS), LTFRB, NIA, NPO, Manila Seedling Bank, Trinoma Mall, and SM City North EDSA.

    Related Posts:
    Manila Shopping Guide
    Salcedo Weekend Market
    Manila Seedling Bank,
    SM City North EDSA and Trinoma Mall
    Quezon Memorial Circle

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    posted by backpacking philippines @ 9:01 PM, , links to this post

    DFA: Machine Readable Passport (MRP) and e-Passport Application Fees, Requirements and Tips

    So much information you can see on many blogs posting you need to renew your old Philippine passport (the green one) for by so and so you won't be able to travel outside the country.

    This is incorrect.

    All Tutubi can tell you is this, direct from the official website of the Department of Foreign Affairs: If you still have the green passport (like Tutubi's) and not yet expiring, don't renew yet to get the Machine-Readable Passport (MRP) for pretty soon the government through the Department of Foreign Affairs will issue electronic passports or ePassports.

    Differences between the old green passport, machine readable and e-passport:

    The old green passport (sometimes brown) has your picture pasted on the passport and data information handwritten making it easy to forge by forgers (like those in Recto University)

    Machine-Readable Passports, the maroon-colored ones, can be read directly by machines, and have built-in security features to combat fraud, identity-theft and counterfeiting. The photo of the passport holder is scanned, not pasted and information is computerized and not handwritten. Additional security features are a hologram with a barcode and specially-encoded information that can be read only by the passport reading machine plus the the use of a thicker security thread binder to deter tampering and alteration.

    The new e-pasport, has a 64kb embedded chip that stores personal information about the passport holder protected with encryption and thus the most secure of the three passports. With this development, the Philippines will join 60 other countries that issue e-passports, the new global standard set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The Philippine e-passport system is designed by the French-Belgian company Francois Charles Oberthur Fiduciaire (FCOF).

    What if you still have the old green passport?

    Caveat with the green passport is that it'll take a longer time to queue at Immigration lines at the airport due to manual verification of records instead of just swiping your MRP or e-passport at the machines plus additional questions from immigration people.

    Passport Processing Fee and Processing Time:

    Passport processing fee is PhP 500.00 for 14-working day processing.
    Express passport processing within seven working days, additional processing fee of PhP 250.00
    Replacement of lost valid passport: PhP700.00

    Passport Application Requirements:

    1. Mandatory Personal appearance
    2. Completed application form,
    3. Three pieces of colored passport photos with royal blue background,
    4. Authenticated birth certificate (from the National Statistics Office (NSO))
    5. At least two government-issued identification cards
    6. Documents proving the applicant's identity and citizenship

    The passport application form and guidelines may be downloaded at website:

    How to apply for Machine Readable Passport:


    Passport Application Without the Queue (for Busy People who can't afford to wait in line):

    If you're in Manila, you can set an appointment for personal appearance by filling out this form and wait for confirmation of your schedule sent to your email. This way, you can save time not to fall in line. The DFA is notorious for long queues like other government offices as well as fixers offering their services for the "express lane" though some are just scams or scammers in disguise.

    How to get to the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) in Pasay City:

    Commute: DFA, the fastest way, is to take the LRT and get off at Libertad Station. From there, transfer to jeepneys going to DFA/Cuneta Astrodome coming from Evangelista, Bangkal, Makati. You can also get to Libertad via jeepneys in Quiapo with signboard Libertad/EDSA or Baclaran (both Mabini or Taft will do)

    Driving directions to DFA:
    From Quiapo, head towards Roxas Boulevard then drive all the way until you see HK Sun Plaza. DFA is opposite the shopping mall so you need to make a U-turn. From Makati or SLEX, drive towards Buendia, right on Roxas Boulevard then turn right on Libertad St. Be careful with parking your vehicle or car there on the service road.

    For OFWs, there is a DFA Satellite Office at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) at the corner of EDSA and Ortigas Avenue, accessible via MRT Ortigas Avenue Station or G-Liner/RRCG buses from Quiapo and Cainta.

    Related Post:
    Bureau of Immigration


    posted by backpacking philippines @ 9:17 PM, , links to this post

    Looking Back at 2008 and Preview of 2009

    Another year has passed, another has just began, also to celebrate the first anniversary of Tutubi Patrol morphing into Backpacking Philippines and Asia

    Where has Tutubi been in 2008?

    the 12th International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Clark, Pampanga
    Bicol: Daet and the captivating Calaguas Island
    Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya and Isabela
    Lucena City, Quezon
    Lipa City, Batangas
    Aurora, Zamboanga del Sur
    Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental
    Leyte: Tacloban and Ormoc
    Samar: Basey and Marabut

    Hot Air Balloon Festival at Clark Field

    Boracay Kitesurfing in Bulabog Beach

    a surfing student on Bagasbas Beach in Daet, Camarines Norte

    Of all the places he's been to in 2008, Tutubi personally picks Calaguas Island, not Boracay, as his favorite and most memorable.

    the unspoilt beach of Calaguas Island...powdery white sand that's not hot on your's paradise without the crowd

    To show an updated map of his wanderings around the Philippines:

    My Lakbayan grade is B!

    How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

    Created by Eugene Villar.

    Where will Tutubi find himself in in 2009?

    Most probably:

    The place of exile of Jose Rizal in Northwestern Mindanao
    Beach resort in Zamboanga del Norte
    The home island of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries of the Philippines
    A "forest town" in Bicol Peninsula
    The touristy beach of Mindoro where Spanish galleons plying the Manila-Acapulco route used to find shelter

    Tutubi's first sojourn outside Asia may materialize in a few months.

    re-visit the Queen City of the South, a few highly-urbanized cities in Calabarzon, Eastern Visayas and Caraga region, the City of Smiles and home of Masskara Festival, Heritage City and home of Dinagyang Festival, the town of the hanging coffins and lastly, UNESCO World Heritage site as a Continuing Cultural Landscape plus many more, probably unplanned travels!

    Expect a higher Lakbayan Grade rating at the end of 2009 and someday reach Tutubi's ultimate goal of exploring the Philippines...

    Mula Batanes hanggang Tawi-tawi!


    posted by backpacking philippines @ 3:08 PM, , links to this post

    Mabuhay! Welcome Rotonda in Manila and Quezon City

    A fitting landmark to welcome the New Year, a photo of Welcome Rotonda, now called Mabuhay Rotonda, located at the boundary of the City of Manila and Quezon City, also marks the end-points of four major streets: España Boulevard, Quezon Avenue, E. Rodriguez Avenue and Mayon St.

    mabuhay rotondapicture of the rotonda (roundabout) taken from Quezon City side (Canon Ixus 30). The monuments back is Espana Boulevard leading to Quiapo

    History of Welcome Rotonda (now Mabuhay Rotonda)

    Architect Luciano V. Aquino designed and built the structure from piles of marble in 1948 during the term of Mayor Ponciano Bernardo when Quezon City was declared the new capital of the Philippines. It was renamed Mabuhay Rotonda in 1995 to reflect a more Filipino name (Mabuhay means Long Live in Filipino), during the term of Mayor Ismael Mathay.

    The roundabout is a declared freedom park where demonstrations and rallies can be held. When Tutubi passed by, activists displayed banners calling for the resumption of the GRP-MILF peace talks. Who wouldn't want peace?


    How to get there:

    Commuting to Welcome Rotonda is easy, jeepneys from Manila going to Quezon City with signbords Cubao, Project 2-3, Project 4, Project 6, Project 7, Project 8, and Lagro/Fairview pass by the imposing landmark. From MRT stations of Quezon Avenue, North Avenue, GMA-Kamuning and Cubao, jeepneys going to Quiapo pass by the intersection.

    From Mabuhay Rotonda, at the corner of Kanlaon and Quezon Avenue, jeepneys with signboards Mayon will take you to Dapitan Arcade up to A. Bonifacio and San Francisco del Monte (Frisco) intersection.

    Driving Directions: the rotonda (roundabout) can be reached easily from EDSA Cubao via E. Rodriguez, from Quiapo via Espana, from NLEX/Frisco/A. Bonifacio via Mayon and from Quezon Memorial Circle via Quezon Avenue.

    Nearby landmarks include PLDT (with its transmission tower), Welcome Supermarket, United Doctors Medical Center (UDMC) and Grand Inihaw.

    Lastly, for a road map of Welcome Rotonda, click here

    Related Post:
    Quezon Memorial Circle

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    posted by backpacking philippines @ 9:31 PM, , links to this post