San Remigio, Antique

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You know that saying that sometimes what you are looking for is right in front of you but you were too busy looking someplace else that you never noticed? This is that story. Well, sort of.

See, a couple of years ago, our grandmother gave each of us apos a piece of farmland. I guess at the time, we were all busy with our own lives that we never really took the time to even check it out. The caretakers would deliver our share of the produce and that was that. I remember I asked my mom once to send me pictures of the place but her pictures were meh so I didn’t take interest.

But then 2016 happened. The world turned upside down and the prospect of a developed farm suddenly seemed like a great idea to shield ourselves should the global economy go any crazier. And so I booked a quick trip home and scheduled a visit so we can check out the place and plan out improvements.

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Hassle-Free Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas from Starbucks

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It’ll be Christmas in a few days and you still don’t have a gift picked out for family and friends. Heck, you don’t even have your exchange gift ready for work yet and your office Christmas Party is looming dangerously close.

We know exactly how that’s like. The holidays seem to sneak up on all of us. With all the year-end work and stress that we have to deal with, we keep putting off gift buying until the last second. But now, it’s crunch time! So here are some gift ideas to help you guys out.

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Get a SMART MASTERCARD when you download a Paymaya App

We live at a time when owning a debit/credit card is a must. Whether you are a professional who does not have the time to queue up at a neighborhood Bayadcenter just to pay bills, a student learning how to budget his allowance and pay for his own Spotify and iFlix subscriptions, or just about anyone who wants to avoid the armageddon of shoppers at a mall sale or the holiday rush – having the option to just conveniently do transactions online is an absolute necessity. 

One major hindrance in getting a bank-issued card for a regular Juan used to be the strict ID requirements and the KYC process. SMART in partnership with PAYMAYA eliminates this process and makes it easy for anyone with a smartphone to have a virtual debit card. All you need to do is download Paymaya via App Store or Google Play, register by providing your SMART, SUN or TNT number and voila, you have a SMART-Paymaya Debit Mastercard. You can load this up simply by transferring funds from your BDO or Unionbank accounts, through hundreds of SMART Padala centers, SM and Robinsons Malls, 711, and MiniStop branches nationwide. 

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Manage your SMART prepaid and postpaid account on the improved My Smart App

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It is very important these days to have a fast and reliable mobile service. Just as important is being able to easily keep track of your usage so you don’t run out of juice when you need it the most. With SMART, I can be at any Starbucks in the Metro working while watching the latest episodes of Mr. Robot on iFlix or I can be traveling to Baguio hunting Pokemons and I still get the same stable mobile data connection. I can track via My Smart app how much data I have left, check my balance, sign-up to promos and add-ons, and even top-up my credit making sure that I get through all my planned activities with no interruptions.

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Comfort and style: The perfect Chuck Taylor sneakers for travel

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I have a few must-haves whenever we travel: 1. my old trusty DSLR 2. my laptop so I can work wherever there’s wifi or stable LTE/3G connection 3. comfortable and durable shoes. The last one is critical for whether we are exploring a secluded island away from the city or traversing an urban jungle which often entails a lot of walking to keep up with the flow of the busy metropolis.

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Marcia Adams Mediterranean Restaurant

If you are in the mood for something Mediterranean and you’re headed to Tagaytay, set Waze or Google maps over to Marcia Adams Restaurant. There awaits, seemingly hidden in a Tuscan-inspired secret garden, a quaint restaurant with beautiful old walls and rustic interiors.

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Thailand gears up for traditional New Year Songkran Festival

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The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) marks an extended celebration of the Thai Lunar Calendar, the New Year Songkran Festival, with unique activities and festivities that pay tribute to the role of water in Thai culture and society. Normally the celebration lasts for three days from April 13 to 15, but this year there will be an extended break as April 16 and 17 fall on a weekend.

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Revisiting Boracay

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Our 5-day Holy Week getaway in Boracay ends today. While waiting for our Cebu Pacific flight from Caticlan to Manila, I  drafted this visual diary before it gets added to my growing pile of unpublished travel blog posts.

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Get off the grid with this private island getaway on Airbnb

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When your idea of a fun and relaxing getaway has graduated from endless partying and going to LaBoracay to finding solace away from the physical and virtual pollution of the city, here’s a destination that you may want to consider.

Just a little over three hours away from Manila, a private island is up for rent on Airbnb. Equipped with an 80-square meter bungalow with a living room, a kitchen, a main bedroom and an attic, the island can comfortably host a group of up to 10 people. It has a separate study with the most relaxing 360 degree island view and a spacious ground area where you can dine alfresco. You may also chill and/or read on a hammock under a tree, walk barefoot while enjoying your favourite glass of wine, or roast marshmallows and hotdogs around a ready bonfire by the lake.

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Hong Kong 101 for first time travelers

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It’s that time of the year when major airlines are posting the most incredible flight promos that would enable just about anyone to travel around the country and even abroad.

And so, because a lot of our friends are going to Hong Kong for the first time this year, we are posting this travel guide for 5 days/4 nights that we use for our own trips to HK. This covers most of the tourist-y places that you have to check out and a few tips on the side to make your stay as smooth-sailing as possible.

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Solving your #FirstJobProblems with Sun Postpaid Best Value Plan 599

So you have just joined the ranks of the employed adults of society. You are starting to feel good about yourself, proud even. The world is your oyster and the opportunities for you are endless. Then you start to realize that your education has not prepared you enough for many of the challenges that you are about to face as you make this important transition in your life.

#FirstJobProblems

1. Starting at the bottom of the food chain. Unless you are an heir to a management post in a company that your family owns, you will most definitely get an entry-level job which often requires long hours, low pay, and a lot of monotonous work.
Some fresh graduates have turned up their noses at these jobs or quit right away because they feel that they can do better. One thing they fail to realize is the opportunity for learning. Sometimes, the most valuable lessons that will help you later in life, you will have learned when you were still just starting up. If anything, it will make you understand the business better and hone your skills before you start taking on bigger responsibilities. If you want to move up fast, always come to work prepared – read up about your tasks online, set a calendar alarm and a to-do list on your mobile so you will be sure to beat all your deadlines.

2. Balancing work demands with personal life. So you have to miss the next big Zedd event because sadly, you have a shift that night and you have just used up your last sick day or family emergency excuse. You don’t have to feel left out as you can always keep up with your friends via Snapchat or Viber. Virtual partying isn’t bad and it doesn’t give you hangovers.

If you have to spend long hours at work, keep in touch with your family or your jealous boyfriend via text message or even a quick Skype video call during your break.

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Hiking Mount Maculot – A beginner’s tale

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Ever since That Thing Called Tadhana, I have made it my mission to go emo while staring at the sea of clouds at Sagada’s Mount Kiltepan. Turns out, if you are not in your twenties anymore, you can’t just go to Sagada on a whim. While Kiltepan is supposed to be an easy climb, you have to do it at dawn in freezing weather which makes it challenging for first time climbers. Some preparation is needed and setting the incline on the treadmill at a higher percentage just won’t cut it.

The closest and easiest option for first time climbers is Mount Maculot in Batangas. The place is only two hours away from Alabang Town Center and smacked equally between Nuvali and Tagaytay in terms of travel time according to Waze. It is rated 3/9 in difficulty by Pinoy Mountaineers which should mean that it is fairly easy to hike.

Registration is required but your guide can take care of this for you. You may park at an area right before the start of the trail that has public bathrooms for rent. You would need to come back here and take a shower for sure unless you’d want to ride home all sweaty and muddy. It would also be prudent to bring an extra set of clothes and shoes. The toiletries, you can just buy from there.

Now, I am not exactly the fit – sporty type and my doctors (note that it is plural) have told me that I have a weak heart. Going up was pretty challenging for me but there were several set stopovers.  In most of these there were stalls where you could get water and/or food… if you went on a weekend. We were there on a Monday which meant that we had to carry enough water to sustain us until we get to a campsite at the top where only one store was open on weekdays.

It wasn’t really that the trail was difficult. I just ran out of breath faster than a normal human and my heart kept pounding in protest so I had to rest at least twice between each designated stop. Luckily, our guide was very patient and Jae kept me company (surprisingly) on my unceremonious stops. They also managed to endure my Justin Bieber playlist and my ‘Cathy Garcia Molina-verbally abusive because I am tired’ moments.

Speaking of tour guides, rate is at P400 for every five people. I think we got one really cheap though because the sites I checked out before our trip quoted P500-P700.

After about two hours –  you get to have this amazing view. I remember a friend who hikes regularly mentioned something about having a sense of accomplishment when you get to a mountain’s summit. I think I prefer my accomplishments better when I don’t have to sweat or get sunburnt.  But one thing I won’t argue against is the view. It sure is prettier when you are on top.

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All images © 2015 Dale Bacar.

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