Boracay beachFirst off, I’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 won’t make much of a difference if he was the one you emailed or me 😛 Let’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 Galera—I didn’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 different—you just won’t be able to help but notice funny stuff. So… Read on and allow me to spill the beans on the Philippines’ popular travel and photo bloggers!!!

As expected, I had another name boo-boo on my airline ticket. Not really that surprising—I kind of expected that most people do assume that my full name is actually “Gail Villanueva,” 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 wasn’t the only one with the name problem. Eric’s surname really isn’t “Dee,” and Melo’s real first name is actually “Watermelo” (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 wasn’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 “swap” schedules. This is the first time I flew on SEAIR, so I really wouldn’t know if they’re also this efficient if I was a paying passenger 😛

Boracay Caticlan Aklan view from airplane
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 didn’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 didn’t want to be left behind haha).

Bald boys in Boracay
The bald boys in Boracay. Bald Guy 1 and Bald Guy 2: guess who!

We had a “Fernando” and a “Ferdinand” on the trip, and it was so hard to remember which one was “Ferdz” and which one was “Ferdie.” Before the end of the trip, I just christened them with new names so I wouldn’t be confused anymore: Fernie and Ferdie. In short, F1 and F2 (this wasn’t my idea, I swear).

Boat ride to Boracay
Boat ride to Boracay

Microtel Boracay
Microtel Inn & Suites Boracay

On our first day, Noemi, Abe, Ivan and Jet from Newsbreak probably slept in the afternoon. I wasn’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 Melo’s strawberry fruit shake.

Station 1 Boracay Island
Station 1

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.

Pinoy Bloggers in Boracay
Photo op WITHOUT Abe!

Melo and the Dog
The Hairless and the Hairy: Melo with the beach dogs

Kid with sand art
Brilliant kid doing sand art with a spoon

We didn’t find the sacred shake (according to Dean, the Microtel Boracay manager, the shake we were looking for was at Jonah’s, which we apparently passed by on our loooonnngggg Strawberry Shake Pilgrimage), but we did have drinks at the first café we saw. Melo had another crazy idea of walking back, but I guess our dirty looks were enough for him to realize that we’d rather call Microtel’s shuttle on the way back.

Microtel Boracay beds
The Microtel beds

After an hour nap on Microtel’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 wear—the first game required us to get into the surf, scoop up sand, and dump it in a sack. The second game, I didn’t join—I had work to do that evening, and I just couldn’t risk drinking Vodka while doing the Limbo Rock 😛 Abe’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 happened— we had veteran drinker in our midst.

Microtel Boracay presentation
Ted of Microtel welcoming drunken and full bloggers at dinner 😀

You got to give the Microtel group credit: get bloggers drunk before playing your company’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 wasn’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. It’s a real drag that Ivan had to leave early—he left right after we had our Puka Beach photo op.

Gail with the Puka thing
Me with the Puka thing

Lauren, Karla, Melo, me, and Noemi
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 “I don’t want to eat” 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. Anton’s camera had the pictures, I’ll post them here when I receive a copy.

Zuzuni restaurant Boracay
Zuzuni restaurant frontage

Sand castle at night
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 don’t know about the others, but I guess I felt that the Boracay night life just isn’t for me. I can get night life in Manila any time, any day. But rest and relaxation? Definitely not.

Cat drinking from pool
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 wasn’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
The cranky crab

I honestly wanted to take home one of Microtel’s great beds, but apparently, it’s not part of their freebies. Maybe next time! Hahaha Seriously though… If there’s one thing I can’t complain about, it’s their beds. Our cushion here at home desperately needs replacement, so it’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 won’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 “satellite view.” I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. His blog is all about that after all.

I definitely had fun on this trip. Isn’t it obvious? I finally had real rest—I didn’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 I’m excused 😀

Now I can say I truly understand why Boracay is considered to be one of the Philippines’ best tourist destinations. To think we were there in less than ideal weather conditions—I can just imagine how beautiful Boracay would have been in the summer. This sounds cliché, but really, I want to go back to Boracay, sponsored or not. Hehehe 😛