5 Things to Do in the Philippines Over Christmas

When we conjure up images of Christmas it is usually snow and log fires. For those looking to celebrate the season without fishing out their winter clothes, the Philippines is an ideal place to visit. In this post we look at 5 things to do during the Christmas season in the Philippines. (When I say season, Christmas here is from September until January)

1. Visit a Beach

The most attractive thing to do over Christmas in the Philippines is to travel to one of the country’s beautiful beaches. While traveling anytime of the year is special, moving around the Philippines over the Christmas period is even more unique as instead of throwing snowballs you will be lying in the sand. There are many great beaches to choose from across the country. Wander Wisdom made a list of the top 10 beaches in the Philippines depending on whether you want somewhere tranquil or livelier like Boracay, which is the party island of the country.

2. Go to Church

The Philippines has a strong Catholic heritage and during Christmas there are many celebrations. Two Monkeys Travel Group state that one of the oldest Christmas traditions in the Philippines is Simbang Gabi, which takes place during the buildup to Christmas. This mass usually begins at 4 am and Filipinos come to the church to worship and help fulfill someone’s wish to come true. For visitors, this is a chance to see the spiritual side of the Christmas season in the Philippines.

3. Shopping

With Christmas comes shopping and with shopping comes the Christmas sales. The popularity of shopping at Christmas is so big in the Philippines that When in Manila devised a list of 7 shopping tips. On the list they recommend either going very early or late to the malls to avoid queues and to take your time shopping, as there will be many deals you won’t want to miss out on.

4. Watch Sport

Manila is a great city to spend Christmas in. For sports fans that might be worried that they are missing out on their favorite games, Manila has several sports bars to see the action. Skinny Mike’s in Taguig (The Fort) is catered more towards the American sport scene and regularly shows the NFL, NHL, and MLB. For soccer fans wanting to get their Premiership fix the Belle & Dragon in Makati is the place to be. Soccer is seeing a surge in popularity in the Philippines and the Premier League is very popular among locals. One aspect of this rise in interest is that the two most famous managers in the world, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, manage rival teams in Manchester, according to Premier League analysis site Betfair. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to find either Skinny Mike’s or the Belle & Dragon full with fans wearing sports jerseys from both City and United.

5. Eat

Christmas is always a time to indulge and nowhere is this truer than in the Philippines. The Kitchn states that Christmas in the Philippines is always a feast with Christmas ham and lechon (a whole roasted pig) usually at the center of the table. One interesting fact from the Kitchn is that Filipinos like their food on the sweeter side and that the hams are usually encrusted in either brown sugar or a syrup glaze, so be prepared for some sugary goodness on Christmas Day.

75 Years of Philippine Airlines in a Coffee Table Book

Being Asia’s first airline, Philippine Airlines’ history is filled with a lot of ‘first’ in the airline industry and how it’s linked to our country’s history. The story of PAL is the story of the Filipino people’s desire to travel and explore our country and the rest of the world.

My 1st PAL Experience

As a young boy, I was fascinated with airplanes and airports. As with any other Filipino family, it’s always a special time when we pick-up relatives arriving from the airports. It was more special for me as this means I would get a chance to see these huge airplanes and hear the sound of their engines roaring down the runway while I’m dreaming of riding it one day.

The opportunity came when our family planned to visit my mother’s province – Samar. I was about 11 years old when I first rode an airplane. It was our parents treat for us so we could experience riding a plane. Of course, we flew with PAL which was the only domestic airline at that time.

Philippine Airlines 1994
In keeping with the theme of the coffee table book, I’m posting this throwback pic of my first time to ride an airplane

I can still remember how excited I was to see this big Airbus plane in the old Manila Domestic Airport waiting for us to come aboard. I also remember the excellent service provided to us by the flight stewardess, especially when they gave us candies when our ears started to hurt because of the air pressure.

No matter how many times I ride an airplane, I still feel the same excitement every time I fly with PAL (whether here or abroad) because I know I would experience the same hospitality that I remembered from my childhood.

Book Launch

When I was invited to attend the Philippine Airlines coffee table book launch, I just have to say yes. This is one of the brands I grew up with and inspired me to travel. It is an honor to be part of this significant event.

This coffee table book is just one part of the many celebrations lined by PAL for their Diamond Anniversary. The event was held on July 1, 2016 at the Century Park Hotel. It was attended by top executives of the Philippine Airlines and other key players in the aviation industry.

PAL Chairman/CEO Dr. Lucio Tan and PAL President/COO Jaime Bautista. Background: Flight Attendants wearing the different uniforms through the years.
PAL Chairman/CEO Dr. Lucio Tan and PAL President/COO Jaime Bautista. Background: Flight Attendants wearing the different uniforms through the years.
Philippine Airlines Employees
Philippine Airlines Employees
with the Philippine Airlines' Flight Attendants
with the Philippine Airlines’ Flight Attendants
Mr. Jonathan P. Gesmundo, Editor in Chief of PAL's coffee table book
Mr. Jonathan P. Gesmundo, Editor in Chief of PAL’s coffee table book

Part of the event is a gallery showcasing the milestones that the airline has achieved over the decades.

Philippine Airlines Coffee Table Book 3 Philippine Airlines Coffee Table Book 2 Philippine Airlines Coffee Table Book 4 Philippine Airlines Coffee Table Book 5 Philippine Airlines Coffee Table Book 7 Philippine Airlines Coffee Table Book 6

Here are some of the interesting facts I learned:

 

Philippine Airlines’ 1st ticket (ticket number 1). The first revenue flight is from Manila to Baguio

Philippine Airlines Coffee Table Book Trivia

Before, the flight time across the Pacific is 41 hours!

Philippine Airlines first female pilot

The Philippines’ 1st female pilot is also Asia’s first female pilot

All of these interesting facts are also in the coffee table book which I was able to get a copy signed by the PAL President himself.

PAL President signing my copy of PAL's coffee table book
PAL President signing my copy of PAL’s coffee table book

This experience has made me even more excited to fly with Philippine Airlines in the future. Meeting the people behind this great brand, made me appreciate the company even more. In fact, I have already booked a flight with them for Boracay in New Year’s Eve .

Cheers for more exciting years ahead for Philippine Airlines!

***You can buy the coffee table book from PAL Boutique. Follow them on your favorite social media accounts:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PhilippineAirlinesBoutique
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/palboutique/

Manila Pub Crawl is Back!

The First and Biggest Pub Crawl in the Philippines is back in Manila!

Manila Pub Crawl

More than two years ago, I’ve got the chance to join this group in some of their crawls. Back then, they were known for their “Party Jeepneys” roaming around the streets of Makati, The Fort, and Quezon City. It was kind of sad when they stopped their crawls as many of my friends and acquaintances were looking for the fun they started.

Before the start of 2016, one plane ticket posted in their Facebook Page changed everything. Without any particular details, aside from they will go to Makati, in less than fifteen days, their launch date was booked out! Talk about fans who missed the fun!

It feels weird to leave the island and go back to the city. But it's already 2016, a new beginning. Are you ready to…

Posted by Manila Pub Crawl on Friday, January 1, 2016

This Saturday, they will have their Valentine Crawl Special “to celebrate the love and friendships we have” based on their page. I’ve got the chance to talk to my dear friend, the former Chief Operations Officer of Boracay PubCrawl and now the head of their Manila Branch Redd Panes.

What’s Manila PubCrawl?

RP: In other words, we are a bar-hopping activity. But we are more than just a party. Yes, we go to bars and clubs, and we drink shots. But as our slogan says “Turn Strangers into Friends,” that’s our focus. We make sure that you’ll make new friends at the end of the night. This is the safest place to hang out in a night and to meet interesting people from all over the world. We play games, we have crazy rules, we’re just having pure fun! And our staff are dedicated to ensure that you are having your #bestnightever.

Manila Pub Crawl Best Night Ever

What’s the difference of the New Manila Pub Crawl?

RP: We have three years of research and actual practice in Boracay PubCrawl! We are bringing the elements that made Boracay PubCrawl successful. Here in Manila, it is quite a challenge because the environment and mindset is different but that’s the best part! The unique thing about the Manila PubCrawl is this is a place to really find new friends that you can hang out with or do activities with in the future.

Manila PubCrawl beer pong

How does it work now? Do you still use the Party Jeepney?

RP: For most of our crawls now, we are doing it Boracay style—walking! Plus, the traffic is horrible. 🙁 So we go to five different places in a night where you get a free shooter in each bar and exclusive drink specials. We still wear the iconic yellow shirt that you can also use in Boracay to get discounted rate in their PubCrawl. But watch out for the return of the Jeepneys in some of our events.

Manila Pub Crawl jeepney

How much is it and what does it cover?

RP: The regular cost is 990 but we have a promo for the launch, which is 50% off or 495, for the first 40 tickets. It covers your shirt, party kits, five free shooters and free entrance in the clubs we will go to. You also get drink specials in every bar.

Pub Crawlers

Why do we have to join PubCrawl?

RP: Because you want to have fun! This is not just for Party People. I was never the party kid before but look at me now! (And you too!) Join PubCrawl to have a safe place to make new friends, to talk to people, to feel that it’s not that hard to talk to strangers. And we have extra perky staff to be your instant wingboy/girl. We even have non-drinkers before but they had fun!

manila pubcrawl turning strangers into friends

Can you describe the group?

RP: It varies but most of the time, we have 70% locals, 30% foreigners. We try to keep it as diverse as possible. Age wise, from early twenties, sometimes we even have early forties to early fifties joining us. As we say, friendship knows no age, no gender, and no nationality. But for the past that we’ve been doing this, one thing is for sure. They’re all fun.

Manila Pub Crawl Makati

So this Valentine, what’s special?

RP: Well, we want to make a play on the Valentine. While this is mostly for couples, and some singles take this as an opportunity mope and unleash their collections of hugot, we want to celebrate all the love and friendships we have. Have a group date and enjoy the night as we welcome the celebration. We will have tons of surprises for everyone.
[hr]
There you go! So if you want to join me this Saturday in their special crawl, or in any of their other crawls (they have one every Saturday, and 4x a week in Boracay), just contact Redd at 0917 795 4799 (Globe) 0908 444 9426 (Smart) or email him at manila@pubcrawl.ph

Regular Price is 990, but 50% off to the first 40 tickets.

Don’t forget to use their COUPONCODE: ILOVEMANILAPUBCRAWL
[hr]

6 Fun Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day 2016

Filipinos have a romantic streak and even as early as January, many are already thinking of the next month’s signature holiday – Valentine’s Day. Couples young and old look forward to Valentine’s Day 2016. Why not try something different this year? Here are some fun Valentines date ideas to make this occasion much more memorable than ever.

1. Attend the Valentine’s Day 2016 20th Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

This hot air balloon fiesta is an international gathering of hot-air balloon aviators from all over the world and takes place in Clark, Pampanga from Feb. 11-14, 2016. The event is not only aimed at developing discipline and safety principles among hot-air balloon pilots but also a chance for them to mingle with other cultures during the fiesta. And those colorful balloons all flying in the air at the same time do make for a truly awesome photo shoot moment with your loved ones. Even though the event runs through Valentines Day, it is not just for couples but also for the whole family or barkada!

Entrance tickets cost only PhP350 per head for a good view of the participating balloons. Gates open at 5AM so be there early as seating is on first-come-first-served basis.

If you have money to burn, why not try a real hot-air balloon ride with your loved one for $350? Most balloons have only a 4-person seating capacity (2 pilots plus 2 passengers), so it’s perfect for couples. That will surely sweep you and your loved one off your feet literally! You can reserve and pay for your ride online. Before you go on board, you and your partner will be given a briefing on safety measures. Two pilots will be with you during the 20-45 minute ride. Availability of balloon rides is subject to prevailing weather conditions. Any cancelled balloon rides will be refunded. Buy your tickets here.

2. Watch a Valentine’s Day Concert with Your Loved One

If you love pop music, there are two upcoming concerts around Valentines Day this year. Veteran performing artists including Martin Nievera, Erik Santos, Regine Velasquez, and Angeline Quinto will be at the Mall of Asia Arena on Feb.13 at 8:00 in the evening to render OPM songs for you and your special date.

royals valentines day 2016

Get your tickets here

Internationally-acclaimed Boyce Avenue with special guest Savannah Outen will sing to your heart’s content this Feb.16 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Watch them perform their heart-throbbing hits “Every Breath”. “On My Way” and “Broken Angel”, as well as acoustic covers of romantic songs of other artists. With your Valentine date, of course!

boyce avanue valetines date ideas

Get your tickets here

And fortunately, these two concerts don’t exactly fall on Feb. 14, so you can still have that special dinner and intimate moment with your significant other, and have the best of both worlds!

3. Participate in the Panagbenga Festival

panagbenga festival street dancers
Panagbenga street dancers. Photo by Ohsie

Flowers are an integral part of Valentine’s Day. What better way to see flowers than in Baguio City, where their beauty is highlighted at the annual Panagbenga Festival held every February. This festival features floats of all sizes and shapes, decorated lavishly with flowers pretty much like those you see in the Pasadena New Year’s Day Rose Parade. There is also a lot of street-dancing which is performed by dancers dressed in flowery costumes inspired by an Ibaloi celebration dance. You practically have an entire month to see those lovely floral exhibitions. Baguio is also a great place to take your R & R, away from the heat and pollution of Manila. This year, make a point to drop by with your loved one and smell the flowers!

4. Go Trekking at Mt. Kiltepan

Here’s one of the most unique Valentines date ideas. If you and your loved are adventurous types, why not go up to Mt. Kiltepan in Sagada? This is only about a 40-minute hike from town. The best time to start is at 4:30 AM. Get there before sunrise so you can find a good vantage point to witness the glorious rays of the sun on the horizon over picturesque and almost-unreal views of rice terraces below it. It’s truly heaven on earth!

This trip is best before or after going to Baguio’s Panagbenga Festival.

5. Staycation in Manila at a Luxury Hotel

Who says staycationing can’t be fun? As with Christmas and New Year, many luxury hotels offer oodles of valentines promos for Manileno lovebirds. The special offer of Makati Shangrila‘s Circles at 1,280 nett has been extended! You can enjoy the best lunch and dinner buffet in the heart of Makati at its best price until February 29 only. Dusit Thani Hotel has special room packages complete with buffet breakfast, complimentary champagne and chocolates. Sofitel sets the Valentine mood with a spectacular sunset dinner by the open sea, a private serenade, and firework displays. Vivere Hotel in Alabang offers serenades and dinner under the stars.

For something more unique, try a palm-reading session at Midas Hotel and get free candy giveaways at the bar area, or stay the night and enjoy a free breakfast buffet as well as watch Rex Smith perform love songs for you.

Want something less draining on your pocket? Try Bayleaf Intramuros’s own Valentine package. For only Php1,200 per person, enjoy two buffets, two dinners, and two shows.

Check out other fantastic hotel dinner / room packages for Valentine’s Day.


6. Watch the Manila Bay Sunset

Sunsets on the bay are breathtaking moments that a couple in Manila should not miss. You can arrange with Sun Cruises to take a dinner cruise along the bay. Enjoy a sumptuous Filipino dinner menu which changes nightly, plus a serenade by a local band. After the sunset, watch the sparkling lights along Roxas Blvd. and Mall of Asia.

On a tight budget? Then just enjoy strolling along the newly renovated baywalk and still be able to capture that Manila sunset. You can also savor local delicacies from baywalk vendors or walk to two iconic restaurants, like Aristocrat and Emerald Garden for dinner.

Celebrate Chinese New Year in Manila’s Chinatown

Chinese New Year Philippines

Sometime around late January or early February of each year is a holiday that is widely celebrated in Asian countries. This year it’s on Feb 8, 2016. If you are in the Philippines, you would most likely hear “Kung Hei Fat Choy” or other similar Chinese New Year greetings not just in Chinatown Manila but also its outskirts.

Chinese lanterns #chinesenewyear #lunarnewyear #yearofthemonkey

A photo posted by Mark Conrad (@planyourtripnow) on

This is because the ethnic Chinese has become a huge part of Filipino culture, as manifested in food, language, and traditions.  Just recently, Chinese New Year has been declared one of the non-working holidays of the Philippines. Hence, even non-Chinese Filipinos are quite familiar with Chinese New Year traditions.

Chinese New Year in the Philippines is celebrated pretty much the same way as in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other parts of Asia.  There are the iconic fireworks, incense burning in temples, sweet cakes (“tikoy”), dragon dances, and food banquets. Like their Asian counterparts, Chinese Filipinos (called Chinoys – ) value good fortune and maintain certain practices to attract it, like offering and serving round pastries and fruits to ancestral altars, and setting off fireworks to ward off evil.  People wear red, supposedly the color that attracts good luck.

For Chinese New Year 2016, how about visiting Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown?  The sights and sounds of this bustling area will really get you into a festive mood.  But be sure to get there early!

Binondo Food Trip – Walk and Eat

Lord Stow's Bakery Egg Tart in Binondo, Manila
The popular Lord Stow’s Bakery Egg Tart from Macau is also here in Manila

Binondo, a district of the city of Manila, is the hub of Chinese culture and is one of the biggest and oldest Chinatowns in the world.  The area abounds in restaurants, bakeries, gift shops, and jewelry stores.  Ongpin and Carvajal streets are filled with many of these, as well as street vendors selling fruits and delicacies.

If you want to go on a Binondo food trip, you should commute by jeep or taxi to the Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arc, the landmark which welcomes you to the heart of Chinatown.  From this point, you should be ready to walk your way around the area, as the streets are difficult to negotiate by motor vehicle.

Right under the Friendship arc is already the iconic Savory Restaurant, best known for its fried chicken. But don’t just stop there because there are just so many more gastronomic delights awaiting you further down the road.

Make your way into Carvajal street where you can snap up delicious Chinese noodles or dumplings in Quick Snack.  Then make your way to Chuan Kee on Ongpin Street where you can gobble hearty ma-chang (sticky rice and meat wrapped in lotus leaves) and slurp up a thick meaty soup called maki mi.  Thirsty?  Go for the luscious almond shake that Chuan Kee is famous for.

Still got room for more?  Try munching on Tasty Dumplings and Shanghai fried siopao.  It’s so easy to find them because they’re just along your path. If you prefer roasted meat or asado, try it at Lido Restaurant.  There’s Wai Ying on Benavidez Street (it’s one tricycle ride from Ongpin) known for dimsum and Sincerity Cafe on Nueva Street with its best-selling fried chicken.

These are only a sampling of gastronomic delights in Binondo restaurants worth trying.

Watch Dragon and Lion Dances along Binondo Streets

Dragon Dancers - Celebrate Chinese New Year in Manila Chinatown
Dragon Dance
Dragon Dancers - Celebrate Chinese New Year in Manila Chinatown-0893
Lion Dance

Chinese New Year in Binondo won’t be complete without these whimsical creatures cavorting around the streets, eager to catch angpao (red envelopes with money) from stores and passersby.  Some shop and homeowners even tie the angpao onto a ceiling or window awning to make it more challenging for the dancers to get to them.  But don’t underestimate these dancers, because they have very creative ways and means of stretching the dragon or the lion to reach up high and capture the envelopes.  The dragon and lion dance to the rhythm of drumbeats and cymbals that accompany them on their route.

Too Full from Your Binondo Food Trip?  Walk it!

Feng Shui Good Luck Charms for Chinese New Year
Feng Shui Good Luck Charms
Lucky Charms for Chinese New Year
Lucky Charms

There are quaint little souvenir and gift shops along Ongpin.  Further down are numerous jewelry shops where you can find anything from infant coral bracelets to five-figure pendants.

There are deli shops and bakeries, the most noted of which is Eng Bee Tin, where you can buy preserved fruits, candies, cookies, and pastries.

You’ll be delighted to know that your pesos will go very far in Binondo, particularly if you shop in Divisoria’s Lucky Chinatown Mall and adjacent buildings.  From Ongpin, you will have to take a tricycle or cab to the mall and then walk your way to the buildings around the place.

The mall itself has modern boutiques featuring designer clothes and specialty goods not unlike other malls in the Philippines.  But it’s the basement area you will want to go to, as this is where the bargain area is.  From this point, you can also exit the mall to other multi-level buildings with zillions of goods at dirt-cheap prices.

Visit Binondo Church and Temples

The world’s largest Chinatown arch #chinesenewyear

A photo posted by Mark Conrad (@planyourtripnow) on

We all hope for good fortune this year, and what better way than to pray for it at local Binondo churches and temples.  Right at the heart of Chinatown is San Lorenzo Ruiz Church, better known as Binondo Church.  Alternatively, you may want to visit another Catholic church on Plaza Sta. Cruz, known as Our Lady of the Pillar.

Many ethnic Filipino-Chinese, especially those who reside in Binondo, flock to the temples on Chinese New Year’s Eve, so that they can be one of the first to light incense at the stroke of midnight.  This gesture is supposed to bring tremendous luck to the first person who can manage to light the incense ahead of the others. Good luck trying that!

Or just for curiosity, do visit the Kuang Kong and Seng Guan temples along Narra Street, and try asking a yes-no question about any personal or business concern.  The monks at the temple will assist you in interpreting the answer to your question.

Kung Hei Fat Choy / Gong Xi Fa Cai to all!

The Best 5-Star Hotels in Manila for the New Year Countdown 2016

Next to Christmas, New Year’s Eve is the most-awaited event in Manila.  Almost all families celebrate it with food, get-togethers, merriment, and of course, fireworks.  For those who opt not to have fireworks at home, there are quite a number of 5 Star hotels in Manila to hang out at and spend a totally awesome New Year countdown.

Every luxury hotel in Manila has its own brand of dining and entertainment packages and unforgettable New Year’s Eve countdown events to ring in 2016.

Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila

Welcome the New Year with a sumptuous feast at Spiral, rated as Manila’s finest and highest-rated buffet spread (PhP7,231.94 per adult, PhP3,615.97 per child).  There’s turkey, prime rib, and an array of other favorite buffet treats to cater to all palates and diets. Dinner also features a glass of 2006 vintage champagne.  DJ Abdel Aziz will be there to provide musical entertainment while you lounge and await the dazzling fireworks display at the stroke of midnight.

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SPIRAL NEW YEAR LUNCH SPECIALSpiral is inviting everyone to enjoy a wonderful sumptuous lunch buffet feast with family…

Posted by Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila on Saturday, December 26, 2015

You can also welcome the New Year in style with their Carnival De Venezia

Celebrate New Year here at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila and be transported to stunning Venice in a special…

Posted by Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila on Sunday, December 27, 2015

 

Solaire Resort and Casino

This is one of the best hotels near the Manila airport to unwind at because it is in a wide-open area free from congestion.  For big appetites, there’s a really huge array of mouthwatering treats at the Fresh buffet restaurant nearby, one of the most affordable and satisfying dinner buffets at only PhP2,800 per head. Or if you prefer a lighter meal, try the five-course menus at Finestra (Italian), Red Lantern (Chinese), or Yakumi (Japanese).  Prices vary from about PhP1,700 per head for a 6-course meal at Red Lantern to PhP 3,000 per head at Finestra.  For a little more, some Solaire restaurants give you complimentary access to the New Year’s Party at Eclipse.  For the New Year’s Eve countdown, you also have two choices of lounges to hang out at – Eclipse and Oasis.  Both feature live entertainment numbers from Bituin Escalante, The Company, and various other performers. Solaire’s New Year’s Eve dinner and bar packages are all guaranteed to keep you wide awake and revved up to greet New Year 2016!

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Be part of a sparkling New Year’s Eve countdown at Oasis, featuring performances by Aicelle Santos, Bituin Escalante,…

Posted by Solaire Resort on Tuesday, December 29, 2015

 

City of Dreams Manila

The party never stops at this newest hotel and casino in the heart of the Manila bay area. Start off your New Year’s Eve celebration with dinner at Hyatt for PhP2,988 per person featuring free-flowing selected liquors, cocktails, soda, and iced tea.  Watch Erok at the Pangaea, Mitz and Maya, Dream Sirens and Night Train at the Centerplay, and Bass Jackers at Chaos.  Come dressed to the nines and decked with bling!

Hyatt City of Dreams
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City of Dreams – Crown Towers Manila
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City of Dreams – Nobu Hotel Manila
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Welcome 2016 with world-class entertainment and lots of bling! Live music, bottles of sparkling spirits and dazzling…

Posted by City of Dreams Manila on Tuesday, December 22, 2015

 

Fairmont Hotel

Indulge yourself with a dinner buffet (PhP4,995 per person) at Spectrum, and this will entitle you to cocktails and exclusive access to the 9th Floor pool bar New Year’s Eve Countdown Party.  Watch the shower of firework colors and lights line up the Makati skyline.

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Nothing says “Happy New Year” quite like a luxurious feast of gourmet delights, with champagne and cocktails flowing,…

Posted by Fairmont Makati on Thursday, December 17, 2015

 

Diamond Hotel

For this year, Diamond Hotel presents A New Year State of Mind featuring Retrospect, DJ Marx Monterola, and Xarchy Band. In fact this hotel has several fantastic options for even the most discriminating guest.  You can have a 6-11 PM dinner at Corniche (PhP3,300 per person) which includes a chance to win two round-trip tickets to Bohol, or a late night buffet from 11 PM to 2 AM.  If you prefer a simpler dinner menu, try Yurakuen’s New Year’s Eve set dinner with a glass of Cava.  Or if you are coming from another party and have had dinner, go for the New Year’s Eve Party where you get one drink and party favors for only PhP 499 per person, or tapas and free flowing house wine for PhP1,300 per person.The New Year’s Eve bash is from 11 PM to 2 AM. at the Upper and Lower Lobby where drinks may be had at PhP250 each for walk-ins or PhP200 for in-house guests.

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Diamond Hotel Philippines New Year Countdown 2016
A New Year State of Mind (Photo from diamondhotel.com)

 

Makati Shangri-la

One of the best hotels in Manila has its own special brand of entertainment for the countdown to New Year 2016.  Come in your best formal attire as you join other guests for cocktails from 6-8 PM, followed by a five-course dinner with live Broadway show and a live band at 11:30 PM.  All for PhP4,900 per person.  Alternatively, you can choose from another set menu (prices vary from PhP3,178 to PhP5,378 per head) at Shang Palace, or other dinner buffet packages at Inagiku (PhP4,200 per head), Sage Bespoke Grill (PhP4,900 per head), and Circles Event Cafe (PhP3,900 per head).

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It’s a Spectacular New Year as Makati Shangri-La, Manila takes you on an unforgettable evening on Broadway and Times…

Posted by Makati Shangri-La, Manila on Tuesday, December 29, 2015

 

For updated package prices and promotional deals, contact each hotel directly.

FREE New Year’s Eve 2016 Countdown Events

TV5 2016 Countdown

Kita-kits tayo sa Thursday, December 31 para sa pinaka-malaking pasabog ng taon, ang TV5 2016 New Year Countdown!…

Posted by TV5 on Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Kapuso Countdown to 2016

Sabay-sabay nating salubungin ang bagong taon sa #KapusoCountdownTo2016! See you in your best costumes at MOA Seaside Boulevard!

Posted by GMA Network on Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Catching a Glimpse of Pope Francis

It was the night before Pope Francis will arrive in the Philippines. It would be his first visit to the country. This visit is special since he’ll be going to the typhoon-ravaged Tacloban and lift the spirits up of the people there. The Philippines is a predominantly Roman Catholic so it is not surprising that a lot of people are excited to catch a glimpse (and maybe have a selfie too) of the head of the Church. I was contemplating whether to attend or not so I just posted a status on Facebook asking if some of my friends would be  interested to go to Baclaran and welcome the Pope, and if someone would join me, I’ll give it a go.

My photographer friend, Ohsie, responded that she’d love to see the Pope too so we set a meeting place and time. We haven’t seen each other for a while so this is also the perfect time to hang-out again.

I’m riding a jeepney on my way to Baclaran when my phone suddenly rings, displaying a cellphone number I don’t recognize. Cautiously, I answered it. It’s my college friend, Borge. Apparently, he read my Facebook post and he’s already at the meeting place, Max’s restaurant, looking for me. It’s amazing how social media works.

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feeling like a CNN reporter
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Selfie on top of the Baclaran footbridge

The published route of Pope Francis includes the Roxas Boulevard which is just in front of Max’s restaurant. We stuffed ourselves with their famous dish Max’s fried chicken and buko pandan dessert so that we would have enough energy for the long wait later.

The Waiting Begins

And what a long wait it is! Thankfully, I’m with friends that I haven’t seen for a while so it’s great to catch up on each other’s lives while killing time.

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We’ve also made new friends too with people who are seating next to us. What else are you gonna do, right?

The Arrival

Some of the people in the crowd can access tv signals on their phone so we get updated from news channels about the status of Pope Francis’ arrival.

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Cameras ready

The Pope’s plane landed on the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at around 5pm. The crowd became so excited upon hearing the news. The policemen took on their assigned positions while the cameramen made some last minute adjustment to get that perfect shot. But 6pm came, then 6:30pm passed, there’s still no sign of the Pope. We learned from the news that Pope Francis has to attend first to the welcoming rites prepared for him and that the roads around the airport were completely filled with people, as well. The police were having a hard time controlling the crowd.

Finally, a few minutes after 7pm, we saw police escorts rushing in one by one and then we saw Pope Francis on his Pope mobile. The crowd went wild! Everyone started raising their hands, cheering and welcoming Pope Francis.

We caught a glimpse of him for just a few seconds since the pope mobile is traveling really fast. But that few seconds is enough to inspire and bring hope to this country.

What Motivated Me

When Pope John Paul II came to the Philippines for the World Youth Day in 1995, I was just 11 years old then and wasn’t able to see him, although me and my mom had already positioned ourselves on the side of the road that the pope mobile would pass. What happened next was, the crowd got so thick in Rizal Park during that time, that’s why they decided to just transport Pope John Paul II using a helicopter to the Quirino Grandstand. Imagine our dismay upon seeing that the Pope is already on stage and we didn’t get a chance to catch a glimpse of him.

Seeing the Pope is one of my childhood dream that I was able to fulfill now as an adult which makes the 7 hours of waiting wasn’t so bad considering I’ve waited years to have this opportunity. Haha Cheers!

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Mission Accomplished. a well-deserved victory dinner