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!