First off, Iâ€™d like to apologize to those who have emailed me about wanting to volunteer for the 2008 Philippine Blog Awards Night. Marc and I joined a few travel and photo bloggers last weekend (January 11 to 13) on a sponsored trip to Boracay. Abe was the mastermind of the whole thing, so it really wonâ€™t make much of a difference if he was the one you emailed or me 😛 Letâ€™s just say that strolling on the white sand beaches of Boracay is way, way better than getting cooped up all day answering emails. I made that mistake once in Puerto Galeraâ€”I didnâ€™t want to make the same mistake again.
Our trip was sponsored by Microtel Inns & Suites Boracay, in partnership with South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR) and Zuzuni Boutique Hotel & Restaurant. For a comprehensive review of their services, check out my wedding blog. I might eventually do one here in Kutitots, but first allow me to tell you about what happened. Attending blogger meet-ups is one thing, but spending a weekend with a bunch of them is totally differentâ€”you just wonâ€™t be able to help but notice funny stuff. Soâ€¦ Read on and allow me to spill the beans on the Philippinesâ€™ popular travel and photo bloggers!!!
As expected, I had another name boo-boo on my airline ticket. Not really that surprisingâ€”I kind of expected that most people do assume that my full name is actually â€œGail Villanueva,â€ and never would have imagined that it would be so long that you could run out of breath trying to say it.
But, as it turned out, I wasnâ€™t the only one with the name problem. Ericâ€™s surname really isnâ€™t â€œDee,â€ and Meloâ€™s real first name is actually â€œWatermeloâ€ (hehe kidding!). Surprisingly though, SEAIR was able to fix these name issues even at such short notice (there was a mistake on my ticket for the trip to Bohol last year, and Cebu Pacific wasnâ€™t able to issue me a new one even with a one-week notice).
Because of this name change, there was a confusion about the time I was to board the plane. Yes, I missed my scheduled flight. But Ivan was diligent enough to check-in early, so they were able to fix it that we just â€œswapâ€ schedules. This is the first time I flew on SEAIR, so I really wouldnâ€™t know if theyâ€™re also this efficient if I was a paying passenger 😛
The view from the plane
It was a short flight. Melo and Eric were chatting like loud, old women while the stewardess was explaining the safety guidelines, it was hard to hear what she was saying. Lucky we didnâ€™t crash, or we would have drowned 😛 Anton tried to scare me about riding small planes, but no, I was a brave soul (Ok, fine, I just didnâ€™t want to be left behind haha).
The bald boys in Boracay. Bald Guy 1 and Bald Guy 2: guess who!
We had a â€œFernandoâ€ and a â€œFerdinandâ€ on the trip, and it was so hard to remember which one was â€œFerdzâ€ and which one was â€œFerdie.â€ Before the end of the trip, I just christened them with new names so I wouldnâ€™t be confused anymore: Fernie and Ferdie. In short, F1 and F2 (this wasnâ€™t my idea, I swear).
Boat ride to Boracay
Microtel Inn & Suites Boracay
On our first day, Noemi, Abe, Ivan and Jet from Newsbreak probably slept in the afternoon. I wasnâ€™t sure what they did because Marc and I joined Melo, Karla, Anton, Eugene, Eric, Ferdie and Fernie in an approximately 2-kilometer walk along the beach in search for Meloâ€™s strawberry fruit shake.
We met a lot of friendly beach dog residents along the way, as well as a kid who could do wonderful art on the sand using just a spoon. Of course, we had to have that customary sandcastle photo op, but Eugene had already miraculously disappeared when we had this shot.
Photo op WITHOUT Abe!
The Hairless and the Hairy: Melo with the beach dogs
Brilliant kid doing sand art with a spoon
We didnâ€™t find the sacred shake (according to Dean, the Microtel Boracay manager, the shake we were looking for was at Jonahâ€™s, which we apparently passed by on our loooonnngggg Strawberry Shake Pilgrimage), but we did have drinks at the first cafÃ© we saw. Melo had another crazy idea of walking back, but I guess our dirty looks were enough for him to realize that weâ€™d rather call Microtelâ€™s shuttle on the way back.
The Microtel beds
After an hour nap on Microtelâ€™s famous beds, we joined the group for the welcome dinner and fun games. Lauren had to take a 4pm flight (she had a class report, the nerd!), but she was able to join us by that time. I almost ran out of clothes to wearâ€”the first game required us to get into the surf, scoop up sand, and dump it in a sack. The second game, I didnâ€™t joinâ€”I had work to do that evening, and I just couldnâ€™t risk drinking Vodka while doing the Limbo Rock 😛 Abeâ€™s Big-Bellied Drunkard Team won both games, though Ivan our teammate deserved special mention: he downed four shots of Vodka like drinking water and still walked like as if nothing happenedâ€” we had veteran drinker in our midst.
Ted of Microtel welcoming drunken and full bloggers at dinner 😀
You got to give the Microtel group credit: get bloggers drunk before playing your companyâ€™s jingle nonstop while having dinner and listening to your product presentation 😛
Day 2 turned out to be a rainy day. We spent the morning blogging, talking about blogging, catching up with the latest gossips, and doing work stuff. It wasnâ€™t a waste of Boracay day though, we were still able to have lunch at Tesebel Ihaw-Ihaw, swim a little at Puka Beach, and snorkel a bit in not-so-wavy parts of Boracay. Itâ€™s a real drag that Ivan had to leave earlyâ€”he left right after we had our Puka Beach photo op.
Me with the Puka thing
Melo and the Sweetie-Pies: Lauren, Karla, Watermelo, me, and Noemi
That night, we had dinner at Zuzuni (they serve Greek cuisine) and had the bestest chocolate dessert ever. The lasagna-type eggplant dish was so good that I ended up eating a lot of it without spitting out (eggplant is one of the vegetables in my â€œI donâ€™t want to eatâ€ list). Abe was bent on getting a shot of the huge sandcastle with everyone, so we made sure we had one before heading back to the inn. Antonâ€™s camera had the pictures, Iâ€™ll post them here when I receive a copy.
Zuzuni restaurant frontage
Sand castle at night
Most of us were corny people (well, except for Lauren and Anton who were snatched by the Microtel group for a round of drinks), and just headed home. I donâ€™t know about the others, but I guess I felt that the Boracay night life just isnâ€™t for me. I can get night life in Manila any time, any day. But rest and relaxation? Definitely not.
A cat drinking from the Microtel pool:
they weren’t bluffing when they said the pool had no chlorine
Too bad that it was only on our third day that the weather decided to be a little sunnier. I had to re-shoot most of my photos (they looked very gloomy because of the rainy weather), but I still had time to enjoy some of the Boracay sun, white sand, and beautiful blue waters before our flight. Lauren even had some time reading The Beach (how appropriate), and Marc was able to bring home a souvenir cellular phone some idiot dropped in the water (no, the idiot wasnâ€™t one of us). Of course, Abe had to show off his man-who-lived-by-the-sea roots and demonstrated how to pick up a cranky crab 😛
The cranky crab
I honestly wanted to take home one of Microtelâ€™s great beds, but apparently, itâ€™s not part of their freebies. Maybe next time! Hahaha Seriously thoughâ€¦ If thereâ€™s one thing I canâ€™t complain about, itâ€™s their beds. Our cushion here at home desperately needs replacement, so itâ€™s a real comfort for somebody like me to sleep on a chiropractic bed like the ones in Microtel. Marc and I swore to buy a new bed when we transfer to our new home a few months from now. Not exactly like the one in Microtel (they said that they still needed to import those beds from the US), but a bed that wonâ€™t give us back aches every time we tried to sleep on it.
On the flight home, I sat beside Eugenius, who turned out to be a whiz identifying places from a â€œsatellite view.â€ I guess I shouldnâ€™t be surprised. His blog is all about that after all.
I definitely had fun on this trip. Isnâ€™t it obvious? I finally had real restâ€”I didnâ€™t feel guilty sleeping too much at all. I actually felt guilty doing work stuff by the beach, but hey, it was raining when I did that so I guess Iâ€™m excused 😀
Now I can say I truly understand why Boracay is considered to be one of the Philippinesâ€™ best tourist destinations. To think we were there in less than ideal weather conditionsâ€”I can just imagine how beautiful Boracay would have been in the summer. This sounds clichÃ©, but really, I want to go back to Boracay, sponsored or not. Hehehe 😛