Tips for traveling on a shoestring budget (GMA News Online)

Have you been bitten by the travel bug?

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last February 27, 2015)

In the spectrum of types of travelers, I would classify myself as somewhere in between the luxurious kind and the backpacker sort. Five-star hotels aren’t my first choice and neither are dormitory-type rooms. Whether I visit a domestic or international destination, I choose to travel within my means, but still make sure that my experience will be comfortable and enjoyable.

Here’s how to make the most of your next trip.

Be a travel agent for a day

Booking through travel agencies has become passé with the advent of the Internet. Nowadays, anyone can book a flight, reserve rooms, and even schedule tours as long as you are connected to the World Wide Web. It’s easy to search for promo airfares, budget accommodations, and itinerary suggestions with just the click of a button.

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Where to go when food tripping in Baguio (GMA News Online)

Fresh Baguio strawberries

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last February 7, 2015)

Baguio comes top of mind whenever there’s an upcoming long weekend or holiday in the metro. Its lush landscape and cool climate make it an attractive destination for city dwellers. It’s also my preferred destination because of the fresh food finds there and because it’s home to one of my favorite fruits: the strawberry.
I always make it a point to buy fresh strawberries from roaming street vendors, roadside stalls, or the public market. I like the sweet and tart combination of this crimson berry that has found its way into other foodstuffs. Whenever I see a taho vendor, for instance, I always order a cup of strawberry taho or two. The strawberry syrup replaces the usual sugary brown syrup and gives it a fruity punch.
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In Michigan: Discovering Frankenmuth and Mackinac Island (GMA News Online)

Frankenmuth is perfect for sightseeing

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last December 27, 2014)

Cold. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word Michigan. The destination may not be top of mind for most Filipinos visiting the US—not like sunny California—but I have been to this Midwestern state a couple of times already and I can say that I actually enjoyed exploring it.

I admit, I have an ulterior motive for going there—my sister. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t even think of taking a trip there. I’m glad though that she’s there to take us around and show us what Michigan has to offer.

A winter wonderland

There was a little bit of snow on the ground when we landed in Detroit, but this girl from the tropical isles came fully prepared. I covered myself from head to toe, wearing a hat, wool scarf, overcoat, leather gloves and even knee-high boots. It was my first time to travel there during this time of year. I didn’t expect snow though—well, not this early, but it was nice to experience it even for a short while.

We had a flexible itinerary, which pretty much centered on shopping. There are a lot of outlets in the area that would take the whole day to explore. Shopaholics would revel in the fantastic deals at the Great Lakes Crossing Outlets and Birch Run Premium Outlets that both feature discounted high-end brands. In between our shopping trips, we did some sightseeing to satisfy the tourist in us.

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An afternoon in downtown San Francisco (GMA News Online)

Ride the iconic cable car

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last December 21, 2014)

San Francisco is not a new destination for me, as I have set foot in the Bay Area a few times already. Somehow though, I seem to discover new experiences on every visit. My recent trip this autumn was no exception.

For one thing, it was my first time to visit the place during this time of year. My past trips happened during the summer when the weather was fine, but this time, the air was a bit nippy. In fact, I saw that the Union Square Ice Skating Rink was already open when my college friend and I strolled along the area.

Sights, sounds and taste of San Francisco

Before we embarked on our downtown excursion, we made a stop to SOMA StrEat Food Park for late lunch. Being a foodie at heart, I made a special request to check out the food truck scene in the area so we headed to that location where several trucks were parked alongside each another.

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Sampling souvlaki and other Mediterranean-inspired dishes at OPA (GMA News Online)

Crab Brandade

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last October 26, 2014)

I live to eat. That has always been my mantra and it gives me gustatory pleasure whenever I visit new restaurants or eat my favorite foods. One of the cuisines that my palate has come to like is Mediterranean, a mixture of flavors from the culinary regions of Eastern Mediterranean, South Europe and North Africa.

I recently came across a local restaurant that just launched its new menu inspired by this cuisine. OPA is a hotel restaurant owned and operated by diversiPRO, composed of Chef Dennis T. Edillon, Len L. Santos, and Joubert U. Yao. The establishment serves its guests breakfast buffet everyday, but also opens its doors to the public all day long.

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3 Reasons Why You Should Hike Mt. Pinatubo (Looloo)

IMG_5572

(This feature was published in Looloo last October 20, 2014)

Mention Mount Pinatubo to tourists and trekking tours come to mind. But before it became one of the major tourist attractions in the central region of Luzon, it was just another dormant volcano. In fact, it lay sleeping for almost 500 years until it decided to wake up with fury in June 1991 and caused one of the most cataclysmic volcanic eruptions in the 20th century.

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Restaurant Review: Choose your own toppings at Mad for Pizza (GMA News Online)

My personal pizza order

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last July 2014)

Bonding over food is a common activity for family and friends, and it becomes even more fun when you are trying out a new restaurant. That’s what my college buddies and I did recently when we met up for lunch at this new restaurant concept called Mad for Pizza. Like what the name suggests, the establishment serves the Italian favorite — but this one is better because you can actually customize pizzas to your preference.
The casual dining place had a fun atmosphere with its diner-like interiors and loud music blaring in the background. My guy friend Aeus immediately noticed the glam rock sounds and asked the server if it’s the type of music that they normally play in the restaurant. He nodded and grinned when he got a positive answer. I guess lunch was off to a good start.
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Here’s the scoop: Baskin-Robbins finally in the Philippines (GMA News Online)

Choose from the 31 flavors of Baskin Robbins

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last July 4, 2014)

When I was growing up, I remember my mom would get me an ice cream cone after each visit to the dentist. That was my earliest memory of this cool treat, which I have grown fond of until now. For me, like many others, ice cream has become a comfort food and not just a delicious treat.
There’s a plethora of ice cream choices in the market but nothing can compare to Baskin-Robbins, which is the world’s largest chain of ice cream specialty shops. The brand has been dishing up delicious frozen treats since 1945 when it was founded in Glendale, California by two brothers-in-law and ice cream aficionados. Since then, it has branched out to nearly 50 countries with around 7,300 shops as of 2013.
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