Friday, October 3, 2014

Of Davao City Taxis

My work takes me further down south more often than most places. The dynamics in Davao City is such that business have been sprouting up and a lot of economic and touristy stuff are happening all at the same time. 

I tell you, for those who have not been here, YOU have to come! Because a they say, "Life is here ...". Locals jokingly say as well that for criminals, "Life ends here..."

But tagline aside, Davao City truly is a MUST visit local place. And for people visiting the city, you will be amazed at how polite and honest the taxi or cab drivers are in the city. When you land at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport, and take a taxi, there is a mandatory lane that you have to pass as you exit. An officer will get your name. Please give your real name. It's not a hoax, the reason for this is to track passengers and taxi's. I've heard that driver's return items left in their taxis at the airport and you can ask the airport to track the taxi you rode in if you left items inside. Nice!

The Davao City taxi driver's are also easy to talk to. They usually talk about Davao with pride. Yes, this is despite the 30, 40 and 60kph speed limit rules in their city. And mind you, this is heavily enforced! Yes friends, pls plan your time when you travel in the city. Driver's DO follow the rules.

And when you're inside their cab, their ID's are highly visible. Unlike those OMG taxis in Manila where the drivers look shady! And when you're near your destination, most would ask if you want a receipt. "O di ba?" 
Taken with permission from Driver Ike (Aug 2014)
Yep, indeed, when I ride any taxi in Davao, I feel secure and safe. Just bring your waze or use google maps to check where you are as you take the taxi ride so you can view the city map as well. Davao City taxi's are also known for giving you your exact change. 

And today, when I rode the taxi to airport, saw a new sign that caught my attention. It's a 20% senior citizen and PWD discount given to passengers. I asked the driver if they really give it. He said yes, and sometimes the driver narrates, the passenger is the one who say, "imo na lang ang discount", and don't avail. Wow! And so I asked again if they ask for ID like most establishments who give these discounts, he said, "di na maam, kita ra man". You see, they don't even ask for ID, they just visually check you!
Sign inside taxi giving senior citizen and PWD discount
Now this is what you call real taxi service! So I alighted my cab and handed him P140, the meter said P142. So I hurriedly opened my wallet to get more cash, but the driver said, "ok ra na ma'am". I thanked him and got off. Boy, if this was in Manila ... I could just imagine!!! 

I am again a happy and satisfied, taxi passenger in Davao City! I wish the local governments of our cities get to transform our cab drivers to be like the Davao City taxi drivers, courteous, honest and law abiding, then riding these PUVs wouldn't be a struggle all the time! You know what I mean!

Mrs Jane B is inviting everyone to visit Davao and enjoy the city. Will be writing more about Davao soon ...

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sunday Roadside Eating ...

We're back to regular programming and this weekend, it's just dad and me. So after hearing mass, we needed to do some grocery shopping as we're at all time low on supplies at home. It 11:30am and we're thinking where do we have lunch? Options meant eating at the local restos or national chains ... 

So Dad and I decided to eat at the SRP. That's our way home. S-R-P. It's the South Road Project that created the south reclamation area. With the SRP, out travel has been cut considerably vs taking the regular national highway. We used to travel 45-60min from our house to the Cebu City but with the SRP, you can be in Cebu City in 20-25min!

And eating at SRP mean, eating at the road-side "carenderias" that serve "larang, tinola, kanding caldereta, paklay" and other local dishes. Yep, the SRP is lined with these local restaurants as you go north or south-bound. 
This eatery is on the south-bound side of the SRP
So we decided to eat at Nancy's as its the most accessible and we saw steam coming out from cooking pots - which means hot soup in progress! The server hurriedly asked us what we wanted, "tinola or larang". Dad had "larang" but I can't handle the spicy hot soup so I asked for "tinola" instead. These dishes are fish-based. And because we were doing fish, we might as well do squid or "nokus". So this smiling serbedora, prepares our plates, spoon and fork, and asked us, "mais mo sir?" But of course, it's such a treat for us! Eating corn grain as rice is popular in Cebu. I grew up eating this specially when we go vacay in Alcantara (my mom's hometown, down south). 
The open "calderos" where larang, tinola and paklay are being cooked.

The hot and spicy "larang" soup!
We had our drinks those cute solo bottles of 7-Up. Hmmm, no Coke, just Pepsi products. I couldn't finish the corn-rice, just ate half of it. Corn isn't like regular "palay" rice, it's heavier and one usually get's stuffed faster.

Dad finished his meal, and looked for the "serbedora" and asked her to compute our meal. So guess how much??? Hahaha, only P175.00 for the two of us! That's 3 dishes, with corn-rice and 2 drinks! Food court lang ang peg!

So we drove away, got home in 10min. Happy to be eating out, along the road (al fresco), and happy not to wash any dishes!

So when you're in Cebu, you may want to check out the SRP's roadside eateries for some local fares!

Happy weekend!

Mrs Jane B.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

More Playground Parks in Cebu, Please

With a toddler at home, I am exposed to their excess energy brought about (probably) by their milk and vitamins or just plain toddler power. I am now trying to plan outings and play-dates that will allow the toddler to play, learn and socialize. Initially, I've scouted the "pay playrooms" in both Ayala Center Cebu and SM City Cebu. I even scouted SM City Iloilo a month ago when I had to take the toddler out of the house just so he gets to run around and play. 
Two toddlers (JB & Nathan) checking out the passersby
inside one of the "pay playrooms" at SM City Cebu
Unfortunately there are only a few and the space gets really cramped on weekends ... yes, just about the only time adults have time to take their kids out. My cousin tells me there is a bigger one at Parkmall in Mandaue, I could check it out. 

But my idea of play is more outdoor. My thinking is that, kids nowadays are cooped up at home with their digital devices and TV shows, that I'd want kids to enjoy a bit of sun, grass and some fresh air. And yes, perspire a bit outside air-conditioned rooms. The more I think about it, the more I envy the First World Countries with all their parks and playgrounds.

Lovely trees at the Hyde Park in London

In my recent trip to London, I was in awe by the government's plan to ensure each village or town really have huge parks where people can stroll around, have picnics, exercise, read under the trees, look at the greenery and just enjoy nature. It was the start of summer and we could see kids playing and adults enjoying a great time outdoors. Yep, they just pack sandwiches and a picnic blanket and they have an instant outing!

Carousel at the Hyde Park in London
At one of the ponds at Hyde Park in London, we wished we had our picnic mats
Of course, I know with our weather (the heat can be unbearable at times) and the fact that Cebu isn't really as lush as we want it to be, having those green parks maybe hard to create. But we have the sea and reclamation areas that can be partially developed to become seaside parks with activity areas for the young and old alike. We can have those wonderful bay-walks or piers like in Sydney and Melbourne. Truly a lot could still be developed here in Cebu!

But for now, I'm thankful for an upcoming bday party to help add to the fun, play and socialization of this toddler. I'm thinking of bringing the toddler to Plaza Independencia and the Fort San Pedro for some running space and a look into Cebu's history. He is just 20 months old BTW!

But it's never too early to teach kids about our culture and heritage with some running around involved!

Mrs Jane B.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Simple joy ... simple play

Remember when you a kid and a simple corrugated box could already transport you to playing house or playing detective? My memories of play was always more fun with my cousins around. I think it's during summertime when the cousins are deposited in our place before and we would spend hours playing and resisting the mandatory afternoon nap. We would swap stationery, play lego, play house (luto2x sa kun), run-around, eat, talk, make up stories, read our comics from the local Funny Comics (remember Bardagol and Planet of the Apes?) to the american titles like Tom & Jerry, The Road Runner ... ah those afternoons spent writing new words because Mommy Junie will pay us 5centavos for each new word learned!

Those summertime meet ups didn't seem very expensive. We just needed to always have snacks (food) and a space to play around ... space could be anything, not a fancy park or mall. It was the company that matters! Ah, I wish I had a digital camera then so I could have captured those moments ... but I'm sure a lot of us have these memories at heart!

And so today, I came upon an old pic that showed not the whole Cousins Inc but a good number of us. I remembered this was taken the time before our Bandillo cousins were leaving for Germany together with Uncle Butch. I was probably a senior in UP Dill and we went to Nayong Filipino, a first for me and probably for the most of us. 
Striking a pose ... ah some of us were still so little then!
So I really want to maximize this cousin bonding magic and let our little ward experience what it's all about. In this modern age, we do a lot of digital stuff (like this blog writing) and sometimes forget that a good 2-3 hrs of cousin bonding time can indeed be just pure happiness and simple joy! Snacks ang katapat!

These kitties have LED!

"Magkabo ta!"

"Beh, naa bay water?"

Catch me if you can!
Priceless moments ... thanks to Cousins Inc!

Mrs Jane B.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Flying Toddlers

When we were growing up, I would remember several instances where we will be left under the care of our Aunt for several days while our parents would travel for holiday. When they got back I vividly remember once having a battery operated helicopter toy as gift from their Manila travel. Traveling in the 80's with children might have been such a nightmare for parents here in the Philippines. With air travel so limited, most would probably take the ships to travel to and from the different islands of our country. Besides, this was the 80's when disposable diapers where not the usual fare for mothers. It must have been really hard even if you had a yaya or nanny in tow.

Last year, I needed to travel with a one-yr old. I've done all the preps. His baby bag becomes my fashionable handbag and I opted to carry him (as he still couldn't walk) rather than bringing a body carrier or a stroller (he had one in our destination). I also prepared milk so that when we fly he sucks the bottle and wouldn't experience air pressure inside his tiny ears. Besides, this was a 30-minute flight, how bad could it be?

My first hurdle was checking in, thank heavens I had a four-wheel luggage bag that made it easy for me to push and endorse to the airline counter. So now I have baby bag and the toddler. Whew! Next hurdle was the final check-in, a bit easy since I only have the baby bag.

But when I got it, I remembered seeing a sign before in my previous trips that said Airport Playroom. So I asked one of the airport personnel if there was a playroom in the Iloilo Airport. And yes, there was! In fact, I was pleasantly surprise because the Iloilo Toddlers Area was very spacious and clean. The personnel in-charge was very accommodating and even told me that they have a breast-feeding room and changing table ready for use. I think most local airports have this already. I saw one in Davao but it wasn't as spacious as the one in Iloilo.
Don't let the "Massage" sign fool you, look up ...
The entrance to the Toddler & Nursing Mother Station at Iloilo Airport

The hallway leading to the play area

Play area which includes a TV showing child-friendly shows

Closer look at the play area, it also has lots of books!

As the sign says, one guardian only per child
So I put down the toddler and made him play on the rubber mat. Whew! Baby care duties made easy! And our flying from Iloilo to Cebu was a breeze ... I was just the adult who got stressed but the toddler just dozed off and woke up just in time for landing!

The wonders of modern living ... now flying with a toddler isn't that bad at all! 

Mrs Jane B.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Practical Choice ... Budget Hotels - GO Hotel Otis

As I was assigned to Visayas and Mindanao, I had the customary meetings in Manila for HO (head office) updates and alignments. I would usually stay at our condo in Mandaluyong. My former boss, a fellow Bisdak (someone who hails from VisMin and speaks Bisaya) is always so kind to pass by me, as we live within the same area, and give me a ride to the Head Office. My other option was to borrow a "spare car" from the office so I can drive myself to and from my condo. 

Last year, Manila started having all these road rehab and construction projects. Driving within the Metro meant extra minutes of travel. I was horrified one-time of driving from Bel Air Makati to Greenhills Shopping Center for 1.5hrs on a Sunday when EDSA was being rehabilitated. This wouldn't take more than 30mins on a normal Sunday at 1030am!!!

So I re-assessed my accommodations when I visit Manila for work. I was told of the new Go Hotel at Otis which is just across the office. And so I did. Now, I've never been to a Go Hotel before but this hotel is very near our Head Office, a good 5-10min walk. It's marketed as a budget/value hotel. It doesn't serve breakfast, it has no restaurants (but it's within the Robinsons Otis Mall that has restos), no pool, no spa, no gym, no in-house massage, no meeting rooms or business center, no free water or coffee/tea and it's a bring-your-own personal amenities kit otherwise pay P99 for a kit. They do provide the usual towels, bathmat, handsoap and shampoo, and free wifi. There is a vendo that sells water, assorted drinks, chips, and hot drinks like coffee and chocolate to satisfy your food cravings or you can always go down and shop at the Robinsons supermarket.

This is their single bed room. Rooms on maximum can really just accommodate 
2 adults and max of 2 kids under 6 years old.

Room rates so far averages at Php1,300/night whether single or two beds. Well, if you check their website, they have offers lower than this. For a Manila hotel with the amenities available, this is value already for me. And this place is still new, so it doesn't have that old building smell. Their rooms do not have carpets though and so do the halls ... this means sound absorption may be a problem and you can hear echos if people talk too loud in the halls.

There is no breakfast place or resto, and you're not supposed to eat inside your room. So, Go Hotel provides you with an outside eating area that can double up as a lounging area as well. We had a typhoon today, and decided to order delivery and we just ate our dinner at the hall below. 

This is a view of their hall. Notice the yellow table where my work notebook is? 
Newspapers are also provided for.

I've also noticed that most of the people who book rooms here are either students reviewing for some exam, families (probably vacationing in Manila) and some foreigners. They look decent, not at all weirdos, so far! And today, I think it has people checking in because some areas of Manila have no electricity and water. A value for money hotel that can solve these temporary concerns caused by a typhoon.

So, I've stayed here in most of my stays in Manila. It allows me to be close to the office, not be stuck in traffic or drive for hours ... it's almost like a dorm within our office! So I say, it's a practical choice when in the Manila area. You may want to try it!

Mrs Jane B. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

World Cup 123

My husband and I traveled to Europe few weeks back. Main reason for our trip was to attend my cousin's wedding who's based on Rotterdam or R'Dam. We arrived in R'Dam via the Eurostar and Thalys from London. We were so lucky as the hotel we were booked in was very close to the city center and Koopgoot.

So as we were walking around, we noticed that the stores were decorated in orange. So we thought, ah, maybe they're celebrating a holiday, something like St Patrick's day where it's green ... There were a lot of orange stuff across the different stores so we never really connected it to ... FIFA and the WORLD CUP!!! There was so much merchandise about it. There was even an orange lion dancing outside the door of the McDonald's across the Hema store. 

So one night, we had dinner with the cousins and my uncle and we went to this Dudok place. There was absolutely almost no one in the resto, the streets were sooooo silent and because it was cold, we thought, well maybe people are inside their homes.

NO! Everyone were in the pubs watching the game between Netherlands and Australia! When we arrived at our hotel, the lobby looked like a war zone because people spilled from the bar to the reception area. YUP! The World Cup is soooo huge diay in Europe! I completely forgot! And what we didn't know was that the Oranje Team -- Netherland's team is a strong contender for the finals!!!

Even in our room, we could hear the roar of the people watching in the hotel lobby and the people in their homes when the Oranje team made a goal (we opened our windows to have some fresh air in, no aircon needed). WOW! Murag  Pacquiao Fight lang ang peg! I would want to watch it but my hotel cable has no coverage!!!

So I will just have to wait it out! I'm sure Jamie, Chi-wai and Tita Esther are waiting for the game to start!

Sample of World Cup POSM in a store

Here Brian is eating the famous stroopwafel but check out the Sloggi Billboard in the background

Mrs Jane B