Manila 2013 (Trip Summary)

DAY ONE

I packed one luggage of shirts and pants (weight = 7.86 kg), one backpack of my cameras and gadgets plus their chargers (weight = 7.38 kg), also had one tote bag of Alif’s snacks and bottled drink (small ones, 90 ml because cannot bring liquid in containers bigger than 100 ml into cabin) also our snorkels (weight = 3,38 kg). Total = 18.62 kg but gladly didn’t pay for extra over the free cabin baggage allowance (2 x 7 kg = 14 kg).

Alif and I left home at 7:30 PM, took bajay to Gambir Train Station to get DAMRI Bus to Airport. The last bus departed at 8:00 PM, apparently there were buses that departed later but weren’t available anymore then they erased it from schedule board.

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We arrived at Terminal 2 Soekarno-Hatta International Airport after one hour trip, still 3.5 hours before our flight departure then we spent the time waiting at Mutiara Lounge until 11:45 PM (their actual closing time was 11:30, but kind enough to let us there until 45 minutes before ETD 00:30 AM probably because feel sympathy for this sleeping boy :D).

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The flight was delayed 30 minutes, took off at 1:00 AM. After 4 hours of flight until 6:00 AM (Manila’s time is one hour ahead Jakarta), we arrived at NAIA. For some reasons, all of the passengers had to wait 50 minutes before could walked out from the plane to get to arrival gate.

The immigration process was quick, Alif and I got cleared by 7:00 AM. But then money problem started: I couldn’t leave the airport because had no cash in local currency.

I brought two ATM cards to withdraw cash from my saving: BNI (MasterCard) and Bank Mandiri (Visa). Based on my previous experience, there is always automated teller machines at airport (even in Kabul, Afghanistan) then no need to bring foreign currency from Indonesia because could get it upon arrival.

Unluckily, only one ATM which connected to Mastercard network at Terminal 3 NAIA but it couldn’t dispense money, so I couldn’t withdraw any cash from my BNI saving acocunt. There were three others ATM which connected to Visa network but there was only US$20 in my Bank Mandiri saving account.

I had no choice other than made a phone call to my mom at home, asked her to transfer some money to my Bank Mandiri saving account, then I could withdraw it from any of those ATMs which connected to Visa network. By the time finally I got the money, it was 9:00 AM already.

Alif and I took a bus from Terminal 3 NAIA to Baclaran (20 minutes, 2 x Php 20). With a help from a kind old man, later we got a taxi to drop us at Leesons Residences, 944 Remedios Street, Malate. Only 20 minutes, metered fare = Php 92.50 (I gave Php 100 to the driver). It was a raining Saturday morning, but not much traffic jam.

We couldn’t check in yet, because I booked the room for Saturday night until Monday morning. So I just used the rest room to change dress then left Leesons Residences at 10:00 AM.

After walked 25 minutes, we arrived at Shawarma Snack Center. Well, I would have taken pedicab if known that it’s quite far instead of “near only 10-15 minutes of walking” as the hotel guy said.

Our lunch was sandwich (Php 55) for Alif and shawarma with rice for me (Php 165) with banana shake (Php 75) and ice lemon tea (Php 45). I bought 2 more shawarma, then our total was Php 450.

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At 11:00 AM, we left SSC and took a taxi to Fort Santiago (15 minutes with heavy traffic jam). Fare = Php 71.50 (I paid Php 80). Entrance fee = Php 75 (adult) + Php 50 (child).

It was heavy rain, a very bad time to visit Intramuros because we were supposed to do a walking tour. Somehow (perhaps because not much visitors) the place felt a bit creepy, you know…that was the place of people who died un-peacefully. Anyway, Alif had few pictures before we left the place.

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We took a pedicab from Fort Santiago to Manila Ocean Park (fare = Php 60). Perhaps because it was indoor theme park (not much affected by heavy rain), MOP got lots of visitors on that Saturday afternoon. Alif had a good time although it was a bit disappointing for him that Manila Ocean Park was much smaller (and less entertainment) than Hong Kong Ocean Park. We stayed there until Musical Fountain Show ended at 7:00 PM.

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From MOP, Alif and I took pedicab to UN Station, then MRT to Ayala to buy some t-shirts and pins at Hard Rock Cafe, Level 3 Glorietta 3. For dinner, I went to New Bombay Restaurant. There we met Inna, a young pretty Pinoy lady who planned to visit my country after one week. I needed to see her her to give my local money (Indonesian rupiah) and she would give Philippine peso to me. It’s a good deal, no loss on exchange rate for both of us compared to bring international currency from/to our respective countries (to be exchanged at money exchanger).

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Alif and I traveled from Ayala to Malate by taxi (fare = Php 140), it was 9:40 PM already when we finally checked in to our room to have a good night sleep.

TRIP SUMMARY
01:00 AM departed from SHIA
06:00 AM arrived at NAIA
07:00 AM cleared from immigration
09:00 AM bus from airport to Baclaran, taxi to Malate, change clothes at Leesons Residences
10:00 AM left from Leesons Residences, 25 minutes walk to SSC, lunch
11:00 AM taxi to Intramuros, walked around Fort Santiago
12:00 PM arrived at Ocean Park, entered Oceanarium
12:50 PM fish spa
01:15 PM All Star Birdshow at Acquatica (25 minutes)
02:00 PM Sea Lion Show and Marine Life Habitat
02:40 PM Penguin Talk Show
03:00 PM Birds of Prey Kingdom
06:30 PM Musical Fountain Show
07:00 PM pedicab to UN Stations, MRT to EDSA, MRT to Ayala, walked to Glorietta 3, bought t-shirts etc at Hard Rock Cafe
08:30 PM dinner at New Bombay Restaurant
09:40 PM back to Leesons Residences

DAY TWO

Alif and I left our room at 6:45 AM, only 15 minutes by taxi (Php 75) to Sun Cruise’s port at CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay. The boat was clean, fully air conditioned with TV displaying some history of Corregidor Island.

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Tips:
– The seats are limited, only 285 passenger per day. So, book in advance to guarantee your seating (and perhaps cheaper price if book it through websites like I did). Otherwise, be at port before 7:00 AM (reservation closes at 7:30 AM of when seat is full).
– Ask for seat near window, more to see during 75 minutes of cruise. But if bad wave (few passengers got sea sick during trip from Manila to Corregidor, including my son), then choose open space at upper deck.
– Bring your own food and beverage drink because it would be too expensive when purchase it at the island.
– No extra time for visitors who buy one day tour package because the trip around the island starts at 9:30 AM (15 minutes after boat arrival) and ends at 2:15 PM (15 minutes before boat departs back to Manila). I brought our swimsuits and snorkeling equipment, couldn’t use it because north side beach had high wave (too dangerous) while south beach was too dirty with waste from cities. Visitors could enjoy optional add on (Zipline/ATV/Kayak) only if don’t purchase day tour package (only ferry transfer which is not recommended) or stay overnight at the island.
– Light and show inside Malinta Tunnel (Php 200 per person) was good to see and feel the history of The Philippines during WWII, but not recommended for visitors who could get tired easily because it was scheduled at the end of the day tour (started from around 1:30 PM) and involved of walking-standing for 30 minutes.

For Muslim visitors:
– Better do shalat during lunch time at Corregidor Inn. Ask for a quite room to the frontdesk, they might assign you to the library at the 2nd floor.
– No pork at La Playa Restaurant, should be okay to eat Seafood Paella (fried rice), salads, fruits (but chicken or meat is not halal).

We arrived back to Sun Cruise’s port at CCP Complex at 3:40 PM. I took a taxi back to Leesons Residences (fare = Php 90), then another taxi (fare = Php 75) to Museo Pambatta (http://www.museopambata.org/). The entrance fee was Php 150 either for adult or child , quite expensive but I guess that it did worth the money for kids to learn things about The Philippines’ history and culture, also about some biology and technology. Alif really enjoyed it.

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The next destination, just across the street from Museo Pambata, was Rizal Park. We visited the site of dr.Jose Rizal’s martyrdome and of course make a pose in front of the famous memorial tower.

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Another taxi from Rizal Park to SM Mall of Asia (fare = Php 100), Alif and I visited the huge mall (http://smmallofasia.com/moa/?p=1097). We had dinner of fried rice and fried noodle at Martabak (served Indonesian cuisine) because it was still hard for Alif to eat food other than the ones which was familiar for him.

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As promised, I let him bought a toy of his choice at Toy Kingdom for his 9th birthday present (he was born at October 15, 2004). It was his dream gun: NERF!

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At the end of the night, of course, I wouldn’t leave the mall without taking Alif’s pics in front of the iconic giant globe.

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TRIP SUMMARY
06:45 AM departed from Leesons Residences
07:30 AM boarding
08:00 AM sailing
09:20 AM arrival
09:30 AM tour started
12:00 PM lunch time
12:50 PM tour resumed
02:20 PM tour finished
03:40 PM back to CCP Complex
04:15 PM Museo Pambatta
05:15 PM Rizal Park
06:30 PM SM Mall of Asia, dinner at Martabak (Indonesian Food and Cafe)
07:15 PM shopping at SM Supermarket (dried mangoes/pineapples etc)
08:00 PM Toy Kingdom (Alif’s birthday gift = NERF gun!)
09:30 PM left SM Mall of Asia, taxi back at Leesons Residences

DAY THREE

Alif and I left Leesons Residences at 7:00 AM, after quick breakfast of cereal + milk in our room. We took pedicab ride (15 minutes, Php 50) to Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden. Too bad that they don’t open until 8:00 AM (at 7:00 AM, as I read from internet, only on weekends). There was another family came early too, but the officer wouldn’t let us in. I had to be at Malacanang Palace for the tour, then couldn’t wait (might take one hour to roam inside the zoo). So I took a taxi from the zoo to Malacanang Palace.

After 20 minutes ride (Php 90) and few minutes’ walk, Alif and I arrived at the entrance gate of the palace (tourist must enter from Gate 6) at 8:00 AM. We waited for 50 minutes before finally invited to enter the museum and the tour started at 9:00 AM.

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It was 2 hours 15 minutes of great time with our tour guide, Louie. He took us around the museum (not the palace which was not accessible by public) with impressive and comprehensive explanation of The Philippines’s history and the country’s leaders.

After bought some souvenirs, Alif and I left the palace, took jeepney to Quaipo.

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We got off right in front of the gate of “Muslim Town”. It was 11:40 PM already, so we had a lunch at the famous Moud Halal Restaurant and prayed (Shalat Zuhr-Ashr/Jama’ Takhir) at Golden Mosque until 1:30 PM.

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I planned to get around Quaipo also go to Chinatown (for shopping at Divisoria, 168 Mall etc) but traffic jam was crazy because there was religious event of Iglesia Ni Cristo (October 14, 2013). Therefore, I only take one pose of him front of the famous Quiapo Church (officially known as Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene) on our way to Carreido Station.

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We took LRT to Quirino Avenue continued with jeepney to Manila Zoo. Alif had a good time until 4:00 PM.

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From the zoo, we took a pedicab for a quick visit at Rajah Sulayman Park, located in front of the magnificent Malate Church.

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Rajah Sulayman Plaze was a landmark to remind that Muslim kings ruled the region before lost their power to Spaniards. Rajah Sulayman III (1558 – 1575) was the last native Muslim king of Maynila Kingdom, now the site of the capital. He was one of three chieftains, along with Rajah Rajah Lakandula and Adults, to have played a significant role in the Spanish conquests of the kingdoms of the Manila Bay-Pasig River area, first by Martín de Goiti, and Juan de Salcedo in 1570; and later by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1571. (http://mandirigma.org/?p=923)

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From Rajah Sulayman Plaza, we took a pedicab (fare = Php 50) to Robinson’s Place (http://www.robinsonsmalls.com/malls_manila.php) to buy traditional dress.

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Don’t leave The Philippines without these delicacies!

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We walked back from Robinson’s Place to Leesons Residences at 6:00 PM, then left 30 minutes later after repackaging our luggage by taxi. It was only 20 minutes from Malate to Terminal 3 Ninoy Aquino Internation Airport (fare = Php 160 plus Php 20 for highway fee). I explained the name of the airport to Alif, Mr. Ninoy Aquino was the name of the country’s hero who lost his life for freedom from then-President Marcos dictatorship exactly at that aiport (http://www.ninoyaquino.ph/the-death-of-a-hero.html). Alif was quite familiar with “laban” sign for “fight” (in Bahasa Indonesia = “lawan”) after our visit to Malacanang Palace, so he raised his thumb and forefinger highly in front of the hero’s statue at departure area of NAIA.

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The check in process at Cebu Pacific Air was smooth, but the immigration was not. Alif and I queued for 50 minutes before got our passport stamped (luckily the flight was 50 minutes delayed from schedule).

I read from some websites, departure charge at Manila Airport was Php 750 per passenger, although other websites mentioned that it was reduced to Php 550 this year. I spared Php 1,500 of cash (just in case), then only paid 2 x Php 550 = Php 1,100. Got extra Php 400 as monetary souvenir to bring home to Indonesia. :)

Interestingly, there was a guy roamed around the departure area near check in counters said that he needed money for departure charge but had no cash then offered some passengers (local people only because he couldn’t speak English well) to buy his watch for only Php 550. It look expensive, but I guess that it was only cheap replica watch that can be bought at malls in Jakarta for only Rp.35,000 (around Php 120). Unluckily nobody bought that watch from him, at least not around the seating area where Alif and I enjoyed our dinner prior immigration process.

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The plane departed at 9:45 PM, we arrived back to Jakarta 4 hours later, safely and happily. Yes, there were lots of fun in The Philippines!

TRIP SUMMARY
08:00 AM arrived at Malacanang Palace
11:40 AM arrived at Golden Mosque
03:00 PM arrived at Manila Zoo
04:25 PM arrived at Rajah Sulayman Park
04:40 PM arrived at Robinson’s Palace
06:00 PM arrived at Leesons Residences
06:50 PM arrived at Terminal 3 NAIA
09:45 PM departed from Manila (50 minutes late from ETD 08:55 PM)

END NOTE: CHECK WEATHER FORECAST BEFORE YOU GO!

I was late to learn that rainy season in Manila starts from June to October. I thought that it’s same with Indonesia (where rainy season starts from November to April, dry season starts from May to October). It was a mistake that I didn’t check weather forecast, not until when Alif and I were waiting for our flight departure at Jakarta airport. Best time to visit Manila was actually from December to April.

I planned for a walking tour in Intramuros for the first day (Saturday – October 12, 2013) but as predicted then I didn’t make it. Heavy rain with strong wind, still got wet although under our umbrella. Museo Pambata was closed.

Luckily, it was sunny day on Sunday (October 13, 2013) during our trip to Corregidor Island. Only light rain in the afternoon, at the end of our visit to Rizal Park before went to SM Mall of Asia.

Although forecasted chance of rain was 60% for our third day (Monday – October 14, 2013) but didn’t bother us much because only in the morning and light rain later in the evening. The sun was still scorching hot in the noon (I drank so much bottled drink in Quaipo).

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Manila municipality had interesting flood control/warning system. You can see this kind of painted electrical power pole in many places with water height indicator. Green means “passable”, yellow means “not passable”, red means “warning”. Well, in Jakarta, even 3 feet of water height then Indonesians still classify it as “passable flood”. Hahahaha…

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POST SCRIPT

Two weeks after I left the country, thyphoon Haiyan originated. My condolences and deep symphaty for people and the families in Leyte (http://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/22/world/asia/philippines-typhoon-haiyan-deaths/). May God bless you.

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A Day in Quiapo

For my last day in Manila, after Malacanang Palace Tour, I would visit Islamic Center at Carlos Palanca St then explore Quiapo. The location can be reach by taking Bus No. 57 from Pandacan(Beata) to Quiapo via C. Palanca (refer to this Manila Bus Route Guide) to visit Islamic Center at 648 Carlos Palanca St (less than 1.5 km from Malacanang Palace).

This Islamic Center (Mahad Manila Al-Islamie, translated to Manila Islamic Institute, Inc.) was the first Madrasa built in the center of Manila. The pray building is called as “The Green Mosque”. Constructed in 1964, it is believed to be the oldest mosque in predominantly Catholic Luzon island, the country’s biggest island. The Green Mosque used to be the main mosque in Manila before the much bigger Masjid Al-Dahab, more popularly known as the Manila Golden Mosque, was constructed in 1976.

From The Green Mosque, I walked to The Golden Mosque for noon pray (Shalat Zuhr) and lunch at Moud Halal Restaurant, 829 Globo de Oro St.

Refer to http://traveleronfoot.wordpress.com/tag/quiapo/, the next destinations would be:

  • Ils-de-tuls or Ilalim ng Tulay, a popular Quiapo destination to get hold of assorted Filipino handicrafts. Honey-combed under steel and concrete Quezon bridge are stores filled from floor to ceiling with local crafts made from indigenous materials. These handicrafts were sourced from various tribal and cultural communities throughout the country. It’s located under Quezon Bridge.
  • Bahay Naukpil-Bautista Museum. It was the house of Don Ariston Bautista and wife Petrona Nakpil. The 1914 Art Nouveau Bahay Nakpil-Bautista along Barbosa Street has been transformed by their heirs into a museum dedicated to the Revolution of 1896 and to its famous resident, Gregoria Oriang de Jesus, the Lakambini of the Katipunan and widow of Andres Bonifacio.
  • Quaipo Church. Officially known as Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, it’s a Roman Catholic church located in the District of Quiapo, Manila, in the Philippines. The church is one of the most popular churches in the country. It is home to the Black Nazarene, a much venerated statue of Jesus Christ which many people believe has miraculous attributes. The church was painted cream after the original Mexican Baroque edifice was burned down in 1928. It is expanded to its current form in 1984 for accommodation of thousands of devotees. Also known as St. John the Baptist Parish, the church at present belongs to the Archdiocese of Manila.
  • Plaza Miranda. This renovated plaza with Roman pillars and aqueduct-like structures, used to be the site of political rallies, including the infamous 1971 Liberal Party Rally. Grenades were thrown at the stage and the spectators, causing injury and death to a lot of people attending the event. An obelisk marks Plaza Miranda as the place for freedom of speech.Also in this same area are the fortune-tellers, fearlessly and confidently giving their forecast to their steady stream of patrons. Whether through numerology, palm reading, and Tarot cards, both skeptics and believers come to Quiapo’s Fortune-telling Corner to have their fortunes foretold, past lives read, recover lost objects, and bring together estranged couples.
  • Ocampo Pagoda. This garden house with pagoda-like structure dominating the skyline of a residential district in Quiapo was constructed in 1935, a time when the huge area surrounding it was part of a vast estate of Don Jose Mariano Ocampo. The pagoda was built to adorn his garden and at same time to house his realty firm. However, with its completion in 1939, World War II broke out and the structure was used as an air raid shelter for the surrounding community.
  • San Sebastian Church, the all-steel. The prefabricated steel parts of this church were manufactured in Belgium and were delivered in Manila using six ships. It took two years to reassemble the church. Trompe l’oeil painting was used to decorate the church’s interior and the crossed vaults on the ceiling, along with walls and column were painted to resemble marble and jasper.

Here is the walking route: http://goo.gl/maps/0lHVa

DAY THREE

From Quaipo, I wanted go to Divisoria and 168 Mall at Binondo (less than 2.5 km from San Sebastian Church) to see the Chinatown which only few kilometers away from San Sebastian Church, but too bad that it was not the right day to explore the area because there was Iglesia ni Cristo event that shut down Manila (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/506663/iglesia-ni-cristo-event-shuts-down-manila).

So much devotees crowded the streets. Bus or jeepney or taxi or pedicab couldn’t pass through traffic jam as the road toward Quiapo was paralyzed.

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Our itinerary also didn’t work because our Malacanang Palace Tour (https://perjalananbunda.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/malacanang-palace/) finished after 2 hours 15 minutes instead of one hour earlier as scheduled. Not enough time, then Alif and I had no choice other than walked from Golden Mosque to Carreido LRT Station to go back to Malate to visit Manila Zoo and Rajah Sulayman Plaza instead (while waiting for our flight back to Jakarta).

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A holiday at presidential palace…why not? Actually I’ve never been in any presidential palace (not even in my own country) but I added Malacanang Palace into my Manila intinerary because of its less formalities.

After I filled the reservation form at http://malacanang.gov.ph/contact-us/, I received an e-mail of acknowledgement from “Presidential Museum [pml@pcdspo.gov.ph]” within less than 2 hours. The attachments were a request form to fill and a STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES FOR SCHEDULING OF MUSEUM TOURS (similar with http://malacanang.gov.ph/about/schedule/).

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I filled the form and sent it back, got below confirmation on the next working day.

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Our tour lasted for 2 hours and fifteen minutes (9:00 AM – 11:15 AM), one hour longer than scheduled because of the generosity of our tour leader, a young gentleman named Louie.

He had extensive knowledge about the palace and The Philippines history, shown us the historic places including this balcony where a defiant Ferdinand Marcos and an anguished Imelda Marcos facing their supporters before fleeing the country for exile in Hawaii after Cory Aquino was sworn in as President of The Philippines (http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/210205/news/specialreports/pulitzer-winner-searches-for-faces-of-people-power).

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Don’t forget to make a pose with President Aquino!

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Corregidor Island, The Philippines

Corregidor is the jurisdiction of the City of Cavite, Cavite Province. It is also known as “The Rock” for its rocky landscape and the heavy fortifications. The tadpole-shaped island, with its tail running eastward, is about 6.5 km (4.0 miles) long, about 2.0 km (1.2 miles) wide at its widest with a total land area of about 900 hectares (2,200 acres). More details can be found at http://www.corregidor.org/_admin/CTN_central/ctn_ghq_index_composite.htm and http://corregidorisland.com/index.html.

A visit to the island can be booked and arranged through Sun Cruises (http://www.corregidorphilippines.com/).

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Price in October 2013:

A. DAY TOUR PACKAGE
Day Tour Weekday Adult Rate = Php 2,200/person
Day Tour Weekend Adult Rate = Php 2,399/person
Day Tour Child Rate (3-11 years old) = Php 1,350/person
Inclusion: Roundtrip ferry transfers, shrine and entrance fees, guided island tour and buffet lunch.

B. OVERNIGHT ROOM RATE (on top of the day tour package)
Single with Breakfast = Php 1,500
Twin/Double with Breakfast for two = Php 2,000
Extra Person with Breakfast = Php 750

C. CORREGIDOR HISTORICAL WALKING TOUR = Php 1,650/person
Inclusions: Roundtrip ferry transfers, shrine and entrance fees, guided walking tour.

D. CORREGIDOR ADVENTURE = Php 1,999/person
Inclusions: Roundtrip ferry transfers, shrine and entrance fees, packed lunch, Corregidor Adventure (Race).

E. CORREGIDOR FERRY TRANSFERS
Weekday Rate = Php 1,250/person
Weekend Rate = Php 1,350/person
Inclusions: Roundtrip ferry transfers, shrine and entrance fees.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES
Lights and Sound Show at Malinta Tunnel = Php 200/person
The Rocket (Zipline) = Php 100/person
Outdoor Activities (Sunset and Sunrise viewing, Tunnel Lateral Tour) = Php 250/person
Kayaking = Php 500/hour
ATVs (All-terrain vehicle) = Php 500/hour

Luckily I found a deal at https://dealgrocer.com/product/2277-corregidor-adventure-guided-island-tour-with-buffet-lunch then only paid Php 1,350/person for Day Tour Package.

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We had the trip around the island by tramvia, our tour leader (Armando) was very entertaining. Hilarious yet so much knowledge about the history. Thumbs up! Highly recommended!

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Manila Ocean Park

Manila Ocean Park is claimed to be  the country’s first world-class marine theme park and a premiere educational facility. An integrated urban resort with marine life attractions and aqua-themed hotel, the park is geared towards an all-year, all-weather destination for locals and tourists, opened on March 1, 2008.

In terms of floor space, the 8000 square metres oceanarium is larger than the Sentosa Underwater World oceanarium in Singapore. It features a 25-meters underwater acrylic tunnel. Here is the map of facilities: jm-gm-pull-up-1.

Official entrance fee: https://www.manilaoceanpark.com/main/tickets#encounter_anchor
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I got a deal from http://www.ensogo.com.ph/manila/manila-ocean-park-seabreeze-08152013.html then only paid Php 600/person to enjoy SEA BREEZE EXPRESS which covers 8 attractions (Oceanarium, Sea Lion Show, Marine Life Habitat, Musical Fountain Show, Jellies Exhibit, All Star Bird Show, Birds of Prey Kingdom, Penguin Talk Show).

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Perhaps because it was indoor theme park (not much affected by heavy rain), MOP got lots of visitors on that Saturday afternoon. Alif had a good time although it was a bit disappointing for him that Manila Ocean Park was much smaller (and less entertainment) than Hong Kong Ocean Park. We stayed there until Musical Fountain Show ended at 7:00 PM.

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My Route Plan of Intramuros Walking Tour

Adapted from http://www.eazytraveler.com/2010/07/diy-walking-tour-intramuros.html.

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1. Fort Santiago (entrance fee = Php100), the most beautiful (and touristy) area in Intramuros. Entrance along Sta. Clara St. Enjoy a kalesa ride, visiting the Rizal Shrine, retracing the golden footsteps of Rizal to his demise, and walking along the bulwarks by the Pasig River.

2. Head down to admire the fountain at Plaza Roma, surrounded by Ayuntamiento (city council building) ruins, Palacio de Gobernador (governor general’s office) and Manila Cathedral (Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception).

3. Walk down Cabildo St. to Bahay Tsinoy (entrance fee = Php100), a museum that relives the history of the Chinese.

4. Across the street is Casa Manila (entrance fee =  Php75), a Marcos reconstruction of a Spanish residence that showcases exquisite interiors – and Plaza San Luis where one can dine like a mestizo at Barbara’s.

5. Walk down towards Baluarte Plano Luneta de Santa Isabel, passing by the San Ignacio Church ruins (under restoration).

6. Strolling down Sta. Lucia, turn left to see the San Agustin Church & Museum (museum entrance fee = Php100) – the oldest stone church declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. Note the missing bell tower (destroyed by an earthquake), intricately carved doors, Chinese lions (church artisans were Chinese) and amazing trompe o’l’oeil interior murals. Don’t miss the tomb of Miguel López de Legazpi, located on the left side of the church altar.

7. At the end of Gen. Luna St. is the southern gate, turn right to visit the gardens and garrisons of Baluarte de San Diego (entrance fee = Php100) facing Rizal Park.

8. Continue walking down Gen. Luna St to Silahis Center – one of the best antique and handicraft stores in town (and the perfect place to cool off after a long walk!) before relaxing at Ilustrado for a unique gourmet treat: sampaguita ice cream, made from the national flower!

9. Walk up the eastern walls at Baluarte de San Andres for great views of the golf course (formerly the moat), Manila City Hall and Lawton area.

10. Leaving Intramuros through Puerta Real, heading to Rizal Park.

Manila Itinerary (3 Days/2 Nights)

Southeast Asia countries (in alphabetical order) are:
1. Brunei Darussalam
2. Cambodia
3. East Timor (was part of Indonesia, year 1975-1999)
4. Indonesia
5. Laos
6. Malaysia
7. Myanmar (Burma)
8. Philippines
9. Singapore
10.Thailand
11.Vietnam

southeastasiamapI want to visit all of these countries in this region, but until 2012 then I only could afford to travel around four countries i.e. Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand.

I really want to visit the fifth country: The Philippines. So, I suscribed to newsletter of Cebu Pacific (http://www.cebupacificair.com/Pages/default.aspx), a budget airlines that served direct flight from Jakarta to Manila.

Their “year-round fare” (if you are not patient enough to wait for their promotion or “special” fare) was US$109 – US$139 per passenger. Suddenly in November 2012, they offered US$7 for one way ticket from/to Jakarta to/from Manila. So, I bought it for a long weekend in October 2013, with additional charges then return tickets were only US$140 for both of me and my son.

Time runs so fast, it’s only 60 days left before my trip, time to write down my itinerary and book the accommodation.

For the itinerary, I found Yannah’s blog (http://yannahthewanderer.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/manila-philippines-your-3-day-itinerary-with-budget-and-tips/) was a great source of information. She recommended lunch at the historical Manila Hotel (http://yannahthewanderer.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/manila-hotel-why-it-should-be-part-of-your-manila-itinerary/), they serve halal food after got certified in 2012 (http://www.manila-hotel.com.ph/news/content/47) but I must search for discount because 1,800 peso/pax for lunch buffet would be too expensive for me and Alif.

For our accommodation, I booked a room at Leesons Residences. They own a website (http://www.leesonsresidences.com/index.php) but I used special promo fare from ANZ credit card (http://www.agoda.com/ANZ) then only paid US$21.33 per night for Superior Room. It’s a good deal after I read some positive reviews about the condo, and its location would be very convenient to get around the city (near LRT Station, only 1.5 km to Intramuros).

ANZpromo

One place where I want to visit most: The Golden Mosque (http://www.beautifulmosque.com/golden-mosque-manila-philippine/). It’s located at Globo de Oro St, Quiapo, within walking distance from LRT Carriedo station. Any jeepney with Quiapo signboard will go towards the place near Quezon Bridge. This is highly visible landmark so it’s easy to go there even without directions.

Golden-Mosque-Manila-Philippine-4-600x489Pics taken from http://www.beautifulmosque.com/golden-mosque-manila-philippine/.

The Quiapo district is home to a sizable Muslim population in Manila. Refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiapo,_Manila, other than The Golden Mosque, The Green Mosque is also located there.

Green_Mosque_Manila_Philippines

By the way, glad that it’s not going to be hard to find halal food in Manila after I found this list from http://halalguide.com.ph/halalfood/halalcafesrestos/manila/:

In Paco:

  • Assad’s Café – 1268D Midtown Executive Homes, United Nations Ave., Paco
  • New Delhi – 1418 Pres. Quirino Ave., South Superhighway, Paco

In Ermita:

  • Arya Persian Restaurant (Robinsons Place) – Level 2, Midtown Wing, Pedro Gil St. corner Adriatico St., Ermita
  • Fharniza Halal Food and Restaurant – 475 Padre Faura St., Brgy. 667, Zone 072, Ermita
  • Ghazal Restaurant – 1551 A. Mabini St., Ermita
  • Kashmir (Ermita) – G/F Merchants Center Bldg., 523 Padre Faura corner Adriatico St., Ermita
  • Lucky Way Halal Restaurant (24 hours) – 1529 A. Mabini St., Ermita
  • Mediterranean Cuisine – Robinson’s Supermarket, Robinson’s Place, M. Adriatico Street, Ermita
  • Red Sea Mediterranean Restaurant – 1535 M. H. Del Pilar St., Ermita
  • Rihan’s Coffee Shop (24 hours) – Padre Faura cor. M. H. Del Pilar St., Ermita
  • Secret Recipe (Robinson’s Place) – Level 4, Robinson’s Place, , M. Adriatico Street, Ermita
  • Shawarma Snack Center (24 hours) – 485 Salas St., Ermita
  • Shawarma Snack Center 2 – 484 Salas St., Ermita
  • The Chicken Rice Shop – G/F, Space 304, Robinsons Place Manila, Pedro Gil cor. Adriatico Sts., Ermita

In Binondo:

  • Halal Food Restaurant – 1188 Mall, Sta. Elena & Soler Sts., Divisoria, Binondo

In Malate:

  • Jakarta Inn, Piano Bar & Restaurant – 2082 F. Benitez St. corner San Andres, Malate
  • Jerusalem Restaurant – 1533 M. H. Del Pilar St., Malate
  • Simorgh Persian Restaurant – Unit F Bellagio Square, 1658 Pedro Gil St. corner Jorge Bocobo St., Malate

In Quiapo:

  • June Nairah Halal Food Restaurant – 826 Globo de Oro St., Quiapo
  • Moud Halal Roasted Chicken – 827 Globo de Oro St., Quiapo
  • Pamanganan Quiapo – G/F Saimah II Hotel, 310-D Elizondo St., Quiapo

In Santa Cruz:

  • Tasty Fresh Halal Foods (Isetann) – Isetann Manila, 600 Carriedo St., Santa Cruz

Means, first I have to geographically understand this map of Manila with its districs:

Ph_map_manila_largeMy itinerary:

ITINERARY SUMMARY

ESTIMATED BUDGET
Day 1 = Php 3,500.
Day 2 = Php 1,000.
Day 3 = Php 5,600.
Total = Php 10,100 (cash) + Php 3,900 (paid online) = Php 14,000.